Jenson Button and Martin Brundle both feel Mercedes need to “move on” from Valtteri Bottas, with the latter saying he is a “1.5 driver” at the Silver Arrows.
Bottas’ future with Mercedes is well and truly back under the spotlight after a report earlier in the week from the Daily Mail suggested the Finn may be replaced by George Russell before the current season even ends.
That report has been met with widespread scepticism across the Formula 1 paddock, with Bottas himself saying that “only one team” has no problem enforcing mid-season driver swaps. No prizes for guessing which team that is…
But while this particular rumour will disappear into thin air, the question still remains as to whether this is the beginning of the end for Bottas at Mercedes, especially with Lewis Hamilton showing plenty of signs that he is ready to continue beyond 2021.
Bottas’ return of 32 points from the first three races represents his worst-ever start to a season in Mercedes colours and two of the leading ex-drivers turned pundits believe his days should be numbered.
“The problem isn’t qualifying as he is pretty good, but the races…Hamilton has been on another level,” Button told Sky Sports F1.
“Lewis’ strengths for me when I was his team-mate was always the qualifying and not the race so he’s obviously turned it around and gained a lot of experience.
“But at some point Mercedes have to move on and put someone else in the car and see if they can challenge Lewis.”
— Planet F1 (@Planet_F1) May 7, 2021
Sat alongside Button during Sky’s coverage was Brundle, who agreed with Button’s last statement but was more sympathetic to the challenge and scrutiny that Bottas has had to face at Mercedes.
“I mean I’d have liked to have been rubbish enough to beat Lewis Hamilton in a Formula 1 car, to pole in Portimao last weekend,” Brundle said.
“I really feel sorry for Valtteri. I’m sure there were people who thought I wasn’t good enough for some drives at some point but I didn’t face anything like that in the media.
“He has had brutal questions, but such is the way that it is these days.
“It’s hard for Valtteri. I’m sure it knocks his confidence as you just can’t just be bulletproof on that sort of thing.
“He’s come up against Lewis Hamilton, who appears to be the greatest Formula 1 driver of all time, potentially, theoretically, statistically, whichever way you look at it.
“That’s just bad luck for him. Wouldn’t he look a hero if Lewis wasn’t in the team?”
“Valtteri is a 1.5 driver, not a number two. He’s certainly not leading that team just because of the majestic speed and guile and racecraft that his team-mate has got.”