Valtteri Bottas has expressed the “great motivation” he has been given from having George Russell as his team-mate for the Sakhir Grand Prix.
Mercedes have drafted in Russell from Williams to cover for Lewis Hamilton while the seven-time World Champion self-isolates with symptoms after testing positive for COVID-19.
Although, in Hamilton’s absence, Bottas will be favourite to win a third race of the season on a different, shorter configuration of the Bahrain International Circuit, he faces a different kind of challenge from a “young, hungry guy” in the team’s other car.
And the 31-year-old Finn is also due a change of luck after finishing no higher than eighth in three of the last five races, destroying his hopes of sustaining any sort of challenge to Hamilton in the World Championship race.
“For me, it’s a great motivation to have a new team-mate,” Bottas told Sky F1.
“Obviously I’ll try to be ahead of him and win the race, that’s the only thing on my mind.
“Being a part of the team for a few years, obviously everyone would expect me to be on pole and win the race. That’s my goal. I’ll try to end this season on a positive note. I’ll try to make the most out of it and hopefully that can help me for the future.
“But I’m sure this young, hungry guy will give it all he’s got. He’s a talented guy and he’s super-excited to be in the team.”
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) December 3, 2020
Bottas likened Russell’s arrival, however temporary, to when he too joined Mercedes from Williams in 2017, albeit in his case it was on a permanent arrangement.
“ I’ve been there, I’ve been in a similar-ish situation,” said the 31-year-old Finn.
“When I heard the news I could fully relate to George as I started with Williams as well.
“I think I know, at least a bit, how it feels and I think I know that kind of feeling and approach going into the first race with the team.
“I think I don’t need to advise George. He’s obviously had some time in Formula 1 with the current spec of cars and doing a great job at Williams.
“He knows most of the team pretty well so, for sure, that helps.
“We are a big, smart and really united team, so there’s a lot of support to get up to speed, and George knows how to drive.”