Former Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas thinks that the man who replaced him, George Russell, has no chance of beating seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.
The 24-year-old Briton will be partnering with Hamilton in the second Mercedes seat this year, with Bottas making the move to Alfa Romeo. Russell has been part of the Mercedes driver development program for many years, and has been honing his skills at Williams for the past three years.
He got a big break in 2020 when he was tasked to fill in for Hamilton at the Bahrain Grand Prix when the latter contracted Covid-19. Russell was on his way to his maiden F1 win, if not for some major errors by the team.
Nevertheless, his performance made an impact and was soon confirmed to be Hamilton’s teammate from 2022. However, Bottas does not think the young Briton can beat Hamilton, which is what many F1 fans are expecting. “I don’t see anyone else beating Lewis in the near future in the same machinery. George will adjust well because he has been with Mercedes for some years. But beating Lewis is not easy. I have experienced that. It is his consistency in his performances.”
Notably, Bottas said that “no one else” can do it, before emphasising that he had done so before albeit not consistently to beat him over an entire season. “I can be proud that on my day, I’ve been able to beat him. But not consistently enough to beat him over a season,” he said, as quoted by Sun Sport.
“Every driver has form that is a little bit up and down, but his baseline for performance is just so high. Even when he has a bad day it is not too bad. It is his consistency over the season,” added Bottas.
During his time at Mercedes, Bottas was hailed as the ideal wingman, always providing Hamilton the support he needed to succeed. “When I joined Mercedes, it was difficult for me to take the lead because of Lewis being there,” he said.
Now, it will be Russell’s turn to be Hamilton’s wingman, but many are expecting him to try to shift the balance.