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Valtteri Bottas warns he can’t afford loss to Mercedes deputy George Russell at Sakhir Grand Prix

Matt Majendie
·2-min read
<p>Valtteri Bottas will be partnered by George Russell for Sunday’s Sakhir Grand Prix</p> (Getty Images)

Valtteri Bottas will be partnered by George Russell for Sunday’s Sakhir Grand Prix

(Getty Images)

Valtteri Bottas has warned he is on a hiding to nothing when he goes head to head with George Russell for Mercedes in Sunday’s Sakhir Grand Prix.

Russell is deputising for Lewis Hamilton, who is still isolating after testing positive for Covid-19 at the start of the week.

And Bottas knows coming off second best to the British understudy would reflect poorly on him and dent his long-term prospects with the team.

“It’s difficult to know what to expect from George in terms of performance,” he said. “He knows the team well but also it’s a different car that he has been testing.

“If he beats me, yeah, for sure it wouldn’t look so good on me if I have a normal race and he beats me fair and square. So, obviously I will try to avoid that.”

This weekend has the potential for a shootout to be Hamilton’s team-mate beyond next season.

Bottas, who has two grand prix victories to Hamilton’s 11 in 2020, has a deal in place for 2021, while Hamilton is set to sign a new long-term deal in the coming weeks.

But the Finn downplayed the importance of Sunday’s race.

“I know you like to speculate things and create drama and showdowns,” he said. “But I doubt George thinks that way and at least I don’t.

“I have a contract for next year, I have clear targets for myself for next year – the team as well – so for me everything is really simple. No pressure from my side.”

His stance was echoed by Russell, who has made the cross-grid switch for the race from Williams.

Russell said: “One race doesn’t define a driver’s capabilities or the decision-making for something that is over 12 months away.”

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