‘Do Mercedes have right man in that seat next year?’

Date published: October 13 2021 - Michelle Foster

Valtteri Bottas gives Lewis Hamilton a thumb up. Turkey October 2021

After a “faultless” weekend from Valtteri Bottas, Dutch commentator Kees van de Grint wonders if Mercedes have the “right man” for the job for 2022.

With the blanket of pressure off his shoulders having been informed by Mercedes that he is out at the end of this season, Bottas put in his best race weekend of the year at the Turkish Grand Prix.

Claiming pole position, the Finn raced to a comfortable win over Max Verstappen. It was Bottas’ first P1 of this season.

But while the soon-to-be-Alfa-Romeo-driver was near perfect at the Istanbul Park, the same cannot be said of his Mercedes replacement, George Russell.

Mr. Saturday fluffed his lines in qualifying, a mistake on his final hot lap leaving him down in 13th place.

He lost places in the race, finishing P15 and a lap down on Bottas.

“Faultless race from Bottas and he was also fast in qualifying, so a perfect weekend,” Van de Grint said in the last RTL GP Slipstream podcast.

“You can ask yourself when I look at Russell’s performance if they have the right man in that seat next year.”

But, he conceded, that “of course applies to this race and it’s without reason that he hasn’t won for a year.”

So much so that Van de Grint says if  Lewis Hamilton had started higher up the grid, Bottas most likely would not have been Sunday’s race winner.

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Hamilton, who had a grid penalty for an engine change, started P11 and raced his way to fifth place.

“Suppose Hamilton had come further to the front,” he continued, “what would have been decided? Then he might have been walking around with a long face.”

Instead it was Hamilton who was unhappy on the day.

The Mercedes driver voiced his frustrations saying to his race engineer Pete Bonnington” “F*** man why’d you give up that space? We shouldn’t have come in. I told you.”

Hamilton, though, was quick to deny reports that he was furious with Mercedes, saying his words were said in the heat and the emotion of the moment.

 

Van de Grint reckons it is the job of the driver to listen to the team.

“It was more complaining about his team,” he said. “Why did you come in? Because the team said it and we all do it.”