Bottas: 'I'm sure the British would love to see me swap with Russell'

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Valtteri Bottas isn't surprised by the desire to see George Russell full-time at Mercedes after his performance at the Sakhir Grand Prix.

Going into last weekend, the Finn acknowledged it "wouldn't look good" if the current Williams driver stepped in and beat him at the first attempt.

And that exactly looked like happening when Russell took the lead at the start of the race and was in control before a tyre mix-up at his second pit-stop and a puncture ended any hopes of victory.

Still, the post-race reaction wasn't kind to Bottas, who admitted he went on a news and social media blackout after Sunday.

And speaking on Thursday in Abu Dhabi, Valtteri didn't help himself by suggesting Russell was putting himself into contention for his seat.

“I’m sure the British people would love to see us swap (cockpits), but I will try to prevent that," he said. “All I know is that I have a contract for next year.”

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The former Williams driver then acknowledged his recent performances haven't been good enough.

“All I can say is that since Imola it has been a run of really bad luck and I can’t even remember the last time I was in the podium,” Bottas explained. “I feel that I’ve not really been performing in the last few races, but of course I still try, I try to extract everything I can.

“There are many factors in this sport, sometimes it’s luck, sometimes it’s what you do yourself in and outside the car.  All I can say is that I can do much better than if you look at the last four races, on average. I feel that I need to do better."

Through adversity, the 31-year-old is confident he'll improve but admits it is tough mentally to keep recovering from the knocks.

“In these kinds of moments, when you feel that you don’t perform at 100 per cent for many different races, for different reasons, for sure there’s a lot to learn about,” he added.

“It’s no secret that battling with Lewis for years and years, I know how much it takes out of me, every single weekend trying to get 100 per cent out of me and keep pushing.

“Sometimes I get close, sometimes I managed to beat him. Having fought four years in a row, a defeat for the championship title is tough to accept. For sure it has an effect and when you know that the title is lost, it’s not quite the same, even though you should always give 100 per cent and that’s what I try.

“We all know how mentally sensitive this sport is, so I think there’s lots to learn from this year, again, and hopefully I can use it for the future.”

Back with Lewis Hamilton alongside him for the Abu Dhabi GP, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff does see an opportunity for Bottas to end 2020 on a high.

"I think it is important for him to come out of this [weekend] strong and go into the winter with some tailwind," he commented.

"He knows how to put himself in a good place and he is such a hard, tough Finn. I just see it in his eyes that this [weekend] is going to be much better."