Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says he has a responsibility to help Valtteri Bottas find a seat for 2022 if he opts to replace him with George Russell.
Bottas is out of contract at the end of the year, and his future has been an open question for several months. Mercedes has made clear that the choice is between the Finn and Williams youngster Russell, and the decision is expected to be made during the August break that follows next weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix. If this year proves to be Bottas’s last with the team, Wolff said he would do what he could to help the Finn find another ride.
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“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,” Wolff said. “Because he deserves that. He has been the teammate of the best Formula 1 driver of all time, and that is not always (a) very easy (way) to shine, but he’s fantastic.”
Wolff’s comments came after a British GP weekend during which Bottas helped Hamilton on numerous occasions, both in qualifying and during the grand prix itself, and the Mercedes boss said such teamwork is vitally important to any championship hopes as well as future driver decisions.
“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,” Wolff said. “If you’re on pole, it’s much easier.
“And he was very quick (on Sunday), he drove a really solid race and just Lewis coming from behind on that hard (tire) was just in another dimension to everyone else on track. But Valtteri was the second-quickest car out there and helped for Lewis to secure the way, and Valtteri’s just a great team member and great driver with the right character and personality.
“It is very important, because statistically his odds to win the championship are very small compared to Lewis, who is very much in the fight. And we have discussed that, and as tough as it is for a driver, there is no room for margin here in this year’s championship.
“(Having a driver who can put the team first) is part of the decision, not everything. But seeing him (contribute) like this is great. I enjoy the ‘teamship’.”