Valtteri Bottas admits the F1 Sakhir GP did not go as per plans and it looked bad for him especially with George Russell doing well as Toto Wolff weigh in.

After George Russell’s exceptional stand-in performance for Mercedes in F1 Sakhir GP, questions have been raised regarding the place of Bottas in the team, and whether or not his performance over the weekend was enough to justify his retention beyond 2021, up to which he is currently contracted.

Though he technically did edge out Russell, the Finn failed to deliver the beat-down that would have been expected of an incumbent who is facing a temporary challenger. When one considers that the race result was massively manipulated by adversity for the Brit, and that the latter was only outqualified by his teammate by a margin of 26 thousandths of a second, the one position by which Russell was bested begins to appear insufficient.

Bottas himself recognises this, but says that the end result does not reflect all that happened in the race, and does not represent his pace, which saw him successfully pressure the Brit at points in the race.

“I knew that in the first stint with the medium tyre, the track position would be important, so obviously was unfortunate to lose that,” he said to media, referencing his early loss of the lead to Russell at the race start. “But in the second stint, I was catching him at a pretty decent rate, so I knew everything is going to be open and most likely we’ll have a good battle.

“I still knew that everything was going to be to play for, especially towards the end of the stint on the hard tyres.” Bottas’ efforts in catching Russell were disrupted by a catastrophic pit stop, which saw him pit immediately after the Brit, only to be sent out once more on his same set of hard tyres when the team realised they had accidentally fitted his tyres to Russell’s car, and wished to avoid repeating the same mistake.

It looked as though the messy pit stop had doomed him, but in the end he came out ahead of the 22-year-old when the latter had to stop once more. He was again passed by Russell after this in a flawless overtake, and spent many of the remaining laps behind him as he charged through the field, seemingly on course to reclaim first.

Bottas says he was not thinking about the implications of such a result for his rival while in the car. “In the race, I just tried to make the most out of it, and I knew that it’s going to be a long race ahead, so I don’t think about those kind of things,” he said. “But now thinking about it, for sure, if you don’t know things, then I’d have looked like a complete c*nt and a fool. So that’s not nice.

“It was a pretty bad race for me from that side, and it will be very easy for people to say a new guy comes in and beats the guy who’s been in the team for a few years. So it is not ideal. But the people who know, they know how the performance is, and they know how the end result could have been. I don’t know what to say really. Not ideal, obviously, last weekend,” Bottas said.

In the wake of the race, media and fans alike, discussed on the possibility of Bottas being replaced for 2021, despite being contracted. Mercedes boss Toto Wolff addressed this, stating that the replacement of the Finn would be unlikely, but notably not ruling it out.

Reports suggested that Mercedes had asked Williams about Russell’s availability for 2021 earlier this year, but that their interest had been shut down by the team. “George has always been a Mercedes driver and he’s a Williams driver now, and they can be proud of what he’s done,” said Wolff.

“They will know that his lap times in the Williams are probably the benchmark. Now we will need to see what the future holds. To be honest, I haven’t made up my mind what that means for us. Our driver line-up is Valtteri and Lewis, so I don’t see this [Russell and Hamilton] as a realistic situation at that moment of time.

“We learned that George Russell is someone to count on the future. He has all the potential and all the ingredients that a future star needs. In that respect, I am sad for the result that he could have had in his first race for Mercedes but on the other side, I am happy about his performances,” Wolff said.

Here’s first message from Lewis Hamilton

Here’s what George Russell and Toto Wolff said after Sakhir GP