Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has emphasised that there is no chance of Valtteri Bottas being replaced at the team in 2021, following George Russell’s eye-catching display in Bahrain.
Russell led large portions of the Sakhir Grand Prix on his Mercedes debut, having stepped in for the sidelined Lewis Hamilton, before a pit stop issue and puncture wrecked his prospects of taking victory.
Mercedes has already signed Bottas to a 2021 seat, with Russell staying at Williams, while out-of-contract Hamilton is likely to sign a new deal for the coming years.
However Russell’s performance had led to some speculation over Bottas’ future at Mercedes but, speaking after Saturday’s qualifying session in Abu Dhabi, Wolff shot down any rumours.
“We have a contract with Valtteri and he is going to race next year,” stressed Wolff.
“You need to kick me quite hard in a sensitive zone for me to ever lose my loyalty. I am loyal to my two race drivers in the same way I am loyal to our junior drivers.
“George did a phenomenal job last weekend and he deserves to be in a great car one day.
“He has a contract with Williams for one more year and they have been very flexible and accommodating in giving George to Mercedes this other weekend.
“Everything is going to go its way, but calmly and in a structured way.”
Bottas qualified second for the season-ending round in Abu Dhabi, one spot ahead of Hamilton, while Russell was 18th upon his return to Williams.