December 10, 2020 | News | No Comments
Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff is expecting a tight battle between Valtteri Bottas and George Russell in Sunday’s Sakhir GP, but insists there will be no team orders directed at the two drivers.
Russell qualified just 0.026s behind Bottas in Saturday evening’s shootout around Sakhir’s 3.543km fast outer loop, a margin that frustrated the talented Mercedes stand-in.
But there will be all to play for under the floodlights in Bahrain, with Russell in the running, not only for his maiden championship points in F1, but also eventually for a sensational outright win.
“It will be certainly tight, but I don’t see any rivalry within our team,” Wolff said. “Valtteri is well-settled. There is nothing to prove for him.
“For George, it’s a little bit easier because there is no pressure at all. He has nothing to lose.
“And obviously [Max] Verstappen is not going to be happy that there is a new kid on the block that’s standing in front of him.
Read also: Wolff says ‘serious George’ is like a ‘finance guy’
“George is on the worse line, as we’ve seen last weekend, and the cockpit is too small for him. The clutch pedals are too small too for his hands and his fingers.
“So really, I have the same expectation that I had for him for qualifying. He has confirmed what we thought of him.
“As I said before, impressed, but not surprised.”
After yesterday’s qualifying, Wolff was asked if Mercedes would resort to team orders to keep Bottas on top. But the Austrian said the team would approach the race with usual neutral stance.
“No, [they will be] free to race,” Wolff said. “That’s what we owe to everybody. Off the leash.”
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