Mercedes is currently weighing whether to keep bottas as Lewis Hamilton’s teammate for the upcoming season, or promoting junior driver George Russell to the main team.
Russell has been part of the Mercedes Young Drivers Program since 2017, and has impressed in Formula 1 since debuting with Williams in 2019. He scored his first points for the Grove team last weekend in Hungary by finishing eighth.
Russell’s best result in the Formula 1 it was helped by two crashes in the first corner involving seven cars, with Bottas unleashing a carom of great magnitude.
The Mercedes driver made the wrong braking point and slid towards the rear of the car. Lando Norris, whose McLaren crashed into the Red Bull of Max Verstappen.
Bottas’ car continued on the trajectory to hit Sergio Pérez’s car in the second Red Bull. With the exception of the Dutchman, all the drivers involved had to withdraw as a result of the damage.
The mistake sparked criticism from Norris, who said he expected more from one of the best drivers on the Formula 1 grid. The Finn apologized and took full blame for the incident and was punished with a five-place penalty at the starting grid of the Belgian Grand Prix that will mark the return to activity of the category after the summer holidays.
But the boss of Mercedes F1, Toto Wolff, made it clear that Bottas’ mistake would not have an impact on the driver lineup decision for the team for the 2022 season.
“No, the mistake was unfortunate and with great consequences,” Wolff said.
“It was compromised by the two cars in front, it lost all downforce and then it was too late.”
“That does not influence the decision at all.”
Mercedes is expected to decide its second seat between Bottas and Russell during the summer break, and it will be the first big chip to fall on the driver market for next year.
The Finn was disappointed after his third retirement of the 2021 season. The first came at Imola when he collided with Russell in wet track conditions and then lost a second place in Monaco as a result of a faulty wheel.
The Finn is fourth in the drivers’ championship, 87 points behind his Mercedes teammate Hamilton, and has not won a race this year.
Bottas acknowledged that the season so far “has not gone my way”, but considers that he has made progress in recent races, even before his accident at the Hungaroring.
“At least in the last few races, it seems like it’s been slightly positive, getting some podiums and more points,” said Bottas.
“But now I have three retirements, which is quite a lot in terms of points and that’s not great.”
“But there is still more than half in terms of number of races and we will continue forward,” he concluded.