George Russell: Mercedes chief Toto Wolff makes blunt Valtteri Bottas statement on F1 seat

George Russell 'gutted' to miss out on Sakhir GP victory

Mercedes chief Toto Wolff has once again leapt to the defence of Valtteri Bottas as speculation increases over George Russell taking his seat in 2022. The 22-year-old impressed when standing in for Lewis Hamilton at the Sakhir Grand Prix to put himself in contention.

Bottas finished a massive 124 points behind Hamilton as he became a seven-time world champion.

But Wolff insists the Finn is more than a match for Hamilton who will seek to break Michael Schumacher’s record this year.

Hamilton has also been knighted for his contributions to the sport and his work on campaigning for equality.

“What we need to look at and work out together is the fact that the drivers are all about winning the world championship,” Wolff told Motorsport.com.

“And once that championship is in place, we have to figure out how to keep their energy levels up.

“The margin between winning and losing – between hero and zero – is so small in this sport.

“If he had won in Sakhir, no one would have criticized Valtteri. And that had everything to do with a good or less good start.

“He was also catching up for that unfortunate pit stop incident.”

“So we shouldn’t be tossed back and forth between exuberance and depression when we judge the drivers,” he added.

“We have to see the average and help the drivers to have confidence, to develop their skills and to achieve consistent performance.”

Wolff believes Bottas couldn’t have had worst luck in the 2020 F1 season.

“Valtteri has known highs, but above all many more lows than he deserved,” Wolff explained.

“Those lows were not due to his own performance, but simply the result of bad luck.

“How many times has he been in the lead of a race he probably would have won, but then suddenly there was another red flag? Or before he got a flat tire? Several times.

“I think he could have had a handful of more wins. And the championship could have been open much, much longer.

“He performs at a very high level. There is no reason to doubt him.”

The season-opening Australian Grand Prix is set to be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It means the 2021 F1 season will start in Bahrain on Sunday, March 28 instead.

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