Ralf Schumacher believes that Valtteri Bottas’ career is at stake and that a poor performance at the Abu Dhabi GP could end not only his time at Mercedes but also in F1.
Bottas had a new teammate last time at the Sakhir Grand Prix with Mercedes junior George Russell replacing Lewis Hamilton after the World Champion tested positive.
Although Bottas insisted before the race weekend that it was not a “showdown”, many feel it was exactly that.
And a Bottas lost.
The Finn lost the grand prix lead to Russell at the start and was five seconds behind the Briton when a botched pit stop ruined both drivers’ careers.
Restarting after a safety car, Russell easily passed the Finn as he ran to the front of the field as Bottas lost several positions.
Russell’s chances of winning took a second hit with a puncture that meant he finished P9 to P8 for Bottas.
However, the outcome of the audition was certainly in Russell’s favor.
So much so that former F1 driver Schumacher believes another disappointing performance at the season-ending Abu Dhabi GP could see Mercedes abandon Bottas in favor of signing Russell.
“Maybe it depends on the last race,” Motorsport-total.com quoted the German as saying.
“But if you have another racing weekend like last, the risk is too great.
“His performance in the last races was really bad.
“You can’t go next year with a driver like that and hope to rack up points to win the Constructors’ Championship.”
He added: “I think it’s broken and I think after the weekend George Russell showed, no one at Mercedes will want to take the risk again.
“I think the pendulum has already moved in one direction.
“I would almost be surprised if he could rehab this weekend.”
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Should Bottas lose his Mercedes unit to Russell, that would open up a seat at Williams, the Finn’s first F1 team.
Still, Schumacher wonders if Grove’s team would even want Bottas.
“The question is,” he said, “does Williams want this Valtteri Bottas or not?
“I suspect it will mean the end of his career.
“I don’t think anyone is saying ‘yes!’ At this time. If Mercedes replaces him now, they have good reason to do so. “
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