JUNE 9, 2021
Time to put Russell in Bottas car?
The latest buzz on the Formula 1 rumour mill is that Valtteri Bottas remains in danger of losing his Mercedes seat - perhaps even within 2021.
The Finnish driver struggled notably both at Monaco and Baku, with boss Toto Wolff even suggesting he was to blame for his stuck wheel-nut at the former street venue.
Bottas said at Baku that he was "surprised" to hear Wolff's claim that he didn't correctly line up his car for the pit crew.
"Valtteri has been so unlucky again this year that you can hardly believe it. Look at Monaco," Wolff now says.
"We will certainly take that into account as we make our driver choice for next year."
Wolff therefore backtracks on his suggestion that Bottas caused the Monaco pitstop problem.
"He was actually very precise at the stop. He didn't make a mistake in the whole story. It was our problem," the Austrian insisted.
"I was wrong there. I said he was out by a few centimetres, but he was just right," Wolff added.
However, observers are claiming that Mercedes is now clearly lacking in terms of its overall driver lineup - particularly as Red Bull's Sergio Perez is now fully up to speed.
"When it comes to the second drivers, I see Perez as having incredible racing intelligence," said well-known German television pundit Kai Ebel.
"Bottas has always sat in the best car over the years, but Perez would have achieved at least as much in that car," he told Sport1.
Ralf Schumacher, meanwhile, told Sky Deutschland that Bottas is not playing an effective support role for Lewis Hamilton if he is "not within striking distance" on track.
"A good teammate can force another team to wherever you want to be," the former F1 driver added.
Schumacher said Bottas was "good at Monaco but bad again at Baku", which is "a huge problem for Mercedes in the world championship fight".
"On the one hand it doesn't help the team standings, but on the other he is completely lacking as a support for Hamilton."
Even the media is recognising the problem, with a report at Germany's RTL insisting that Bottas is "no longer good enough" even for the position of Hamilton's "water carrier".
"The love for Bottas is all well and good - but it's time," the broadcaster added. "It's time to give the youngsters a chance to do better.
"It's time to put George Russell in that cockpit."
De Limburger, a Dutch newspaper, agrees: "Bottas needs to watch out, or Russell will soon be in that Mercedes."