Ahead of Sunday’s British Grand Prix there was much fanfare about the prospect of George Russell lining up in 2022 alongside seven-time F1 Drivers’ Champion Lewis Hamilton. However, that seat at present belongs to Valtteri Bottas and the Finnish driver will not relinquish it without a fight. Bottas must surely know that the key to retaining his place is to show Mercedes the kind of teammate he is. Following his performance for the team which helped secure an 8th British GP win for his teammate Lewis Hamilton, Team Principal Toto Wolff described his weekend as ‘brilliant’. Such praise has surely done Bottas’ 2022 chances no harm.
On a weekend when Valtteri Bottas sacrificed his lap time to give a tow to Lewis Hamilton at Friday’s qualifying, there were early signs that Bottas was playing the team game. This coupled with moving over with ease during Sunday’s Grand Prix to allow Hamilton the opportunity to successfully chase down Charles Leclerc for the lead, shows the huge part Bottas played in the victory.
No wonder, in the post-race press conference with select media including Motorlat, Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff commented:
“He had a brilliant weekend in my opinion because he could have been on pole, if he would have had a tow on Friday night and that was obviously impacting his performance and if you are on pole [for Sprint] it’s much easier.”
It certainly was meant to be easier starting from pole in the Sprint but seeing how Drivers’ Championship leader Max Verstappen was quicker off the line ahead of Lewis Hamilton and consequently won – we shall never know what the outcome of a tow would have been.
Nevertheless, Valtteri Bottas has not blotted his copybook in any way and during the Grand Prix could do nothing about the speed of Hamilton in the third part of the race. The pace of the Finnish driver did not go unnoticed by his boss Toto Wolff:
“He was very quick today he drove a really solid race. And just Lewis coming from behind on that hard was just in another dimension for everybody on track but Valtteri was the second quickest car over there and helped for Lewis to secure the way and Valtteri’s just a great team member, great driver with the right character and personality.”
Such a character seems to be the right fit for Mercedes, especially when new regulations in 2022 will already bring enough new challenges – so why change the drivers? With that in mind, seeing how Bottas has now had three consecutive podiums in the last three races, he is doing all he can to show his team that he is the man for them. Such is the character of Valtteri Bottas, he always expects more from himself.
Of course, should Mercedes choose to not renew Valtteri Bottas’ contract, a man who has been with the team since 2017, the question was posed as to whether Toto Wolff would help him secure a future elsewhere?
“If we were to come to the situation that we wanted to give somebody else a go then it’s not only my relationship with him but also the responsibility that he has a great future because he deserves that, he has been a teammate of the best Formula One driver of all time and that’s not always very easy to shine but he’s fantastic.”
Valtteri Bottas is banking a lot of important points for Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team as they seek to retain their F1 Constructors’ Championship - whilst also being a perfect rear gunner for Lewis Hamilton. Therefore, is that now an the most important factor into whether Bottas will be retained for 2022?
“It is very important because statistically, his odds to win the championship are very small compared to Lewis. Lewis is very much in the fight and we have discussed that as tough as it is for a driver there is no room for margin here in this year’s championship.” Toto Wolff responded on this matter.
“It is part of the decision, not everything but seeing him like this, it is great, I enjoyed the teamship.”
Valtteri Bottas had a fantastic British Grand Prix for Mercedes and should he produce a similar performance in Hungary he may find he still has many more to come.