Seven-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton has come to the defence of team-mate Valtteri Bottas after a rumour emerged this week suggesting Mercedes were considering a mid-season replacement for the Finn, but could we actually see Bottas win in Spain this weekend?
After Bottas told a press conference on Thursday that the rumours were ” bullshit “, Lewis Hamilton was keen to stress just how important the Finn was to the team.
“From my experience and the relationship I have with Valtteri, I think he’s been an incredible teammate, as I’ve always said, and I’m really honest. ”
“I think we have the best possible line-up at the moment in terms of performance, in terms of balance in our team and in terms of general knowledge of the car. ”
“I won’t be here forever and Valtteri won’t be here forever, but at the moment we have performed time and time again over the years and we continue to do so. ”
“Valtteri took pole position in the last race, and this is only the fourth race. I think people need to leave him alone and let him concentrate on what he is doing. ”
Perhaps those who have a keen eye on the nuance of Formula 1 might be inclined to believe that Valtteri could have a decent chance of his first win of 2021 in Spain.
Circuit de Catalunya is a track notorious for its difficulty in overtaking, making pole position on Saturday even more important and a necessary spot from which to win the race on Sunday.
No stranger to occasionally beating his team mate Lewis Hamilton, Bottas took pole in Portugal last time out and the Finn again started from the front in Barcelona back in 2018. Bottas will be keen to spoil his detractors toxic rhetoric with a winning performance and there’s every reason to think he could achieve the coveted starting position in qualifying.
In fact, looking at the bookies’ favourites, Bottas is excellent value at 9/1 for the race win over at Sportsbettingdime.com compared to Hamilton at 23/20, or Max Verstappen at 7/5.
As expected, Valtteri Bottas has categorically denied rumours that the Mercedes team is considering replacing him mid-season with Briton George Russell, and so will be very motivated to prove he is still capable of winning.
This week, the British tabloid The Daily Mail claimed to have information from an unnamed source inside Mercedes that the German manufacturer’s team was considering parting ways with Valtteri Bottas during the season and replacing him with Williams driver George Russell.
When asked on Thursday in Spain, Valtteri Bottas said that he did not feel under pressure.
“No, because I know I won’t be replaced in the middle of the season, as a team we don’t do that. ” Valtteri Bottas said in a press conference in Barcelona on Thursday.
“I have a contract for this year and I think there is only one team [Red Bull] that does this kind of thing in F1 and it is not us. ”
“So there’s no pressure from my side, I know how it goes. There is always a lot of bullshit, that’s part of this sport. ”
Ahead of the fourth round of the 2021 season, Valtteri Bottas sits fourth in the drivers’ standings, while teammate Lewis Hamilton leads the championship by 37 points.
Bottas was also asked at the press conference if he was concerned about the possible arrival of team orders this year in order to help his teammate in the title battle against Max Verstappen.
“About the team instructions and everything else, I’m not worried to be honest. “I know that there is a lot to do.
“I know there is a small gap [in terms of points], but it’s still a bit too early. So there’s no point in starting to think about it, so I’m not worried.”
“There are still 20 races to go and so there are still a lot of points to give out. I’m certainly not giving up on my goal for this year. I’ve always believed that hard work will pay off. ”
“So, I will continue to work hard and believe. I know the results will come and it will pay off. ”
The Mercedes driver also insisted that he is not yet thinking about his future in F1, despite the fact that his contract will expire at the end of this season.
“It’s only the beginning of the year, I haven’t really thought about next year. As I said earlier, I’m fully focused on the here and now, because that’s all that matters and that will normally bring a bright future. ”
“So, I have no idea, and at the moment I don’t care; I’m just focusing on this year and putting every thought and energy I have into it. ”