Teaming up with George Russell for the Sakhir GP, Valtteri Bottas has rubbished any suggestion of this weekend’s event being a “showdown” between the two.
While Lewis Hamilton’s future at Mercedes is almost guaranteed, the same cannot be said of his team-mate.
Bottas has failed to match the Brit’s performances out on track, taking just two wins this season to his team-mate’s 11.
Despite that Mercedes have handed him a new contract for next season, Bottas once again agreeing a one-year deal with the Brackley squad.
That shut the door on Russell, who had hoped for a promotion from Williams to Mercedes.
He will, however, get a one-off promotion at this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix, filling in for Lewis Hamilton after the reigning World Champion tested positive.
It has some asking whether Russell beating Bottas could see the Williams driver take the Finn’s race seat for next year’s championship.
Bottas says no.
“I know that you like to speculate things and create drama and ‘showdowns’ etc,” he told the media at the Sakhir circuit.
“But I doubt George thinks that way and at least I don’t.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for George, a great opportunity to learn a lot and to show what we can do with the team.
“And from my side, as a racing driver of course you always want to be ahead of your team-mate – whether it’s Lewis Hamilton or George Russell or anyone else, it doesn’t matter.
“I also have a job to do for the last three races of the season – I have my own motivation, which is trying to win the remaining races.
“That’s obviously for me the only goal – and trying to maximise all the learnings I can for next year and end the season on a positive way that could hopefully help me [at the] start of next year.
“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.”
Pressed as to whether Russell beating him on Sunday could have a negative impact on Bottas’ overall career, he replied: “I haven’t really thought about it and it’s difficult to know what to expect from George in terms of performance.
“He knows the team well, but also it’s a different car that he has been testing and lots of new things. And also… I don’t really know what to say to that question.
“I haven’t thought [about] it in that sense and if I have to give some kind of answer I say if he beats me, yeah for sure it wouldn’t look so good on me if I have a normal race and if he beats me fair and square.
“So obviously I [will] try to avoid that.
“But I am not a person who thinks on that side of things. I try to turn things into a motivation and through positive thinking. That’s my mindset for this weekend.”