Mercedes urged to snub George Russell to keep Valtteri Bottas in Lewis Hamilton claim

Lewis Hamilton's 'natural ability is fantastic' says Button

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Mika Hakkinen has urged Mercedes to snub George Russell and keep Valtteri Bottas. There are strong rumours that Russell will replace the Finnish driver and line up alongside Lewis Hamilton next season.

But the 1998 and 1999 F1 world champion has defended his compatriot and believes he should stay with the German team.

He told RTL: “If you look at the facts, the results in all the years Valtteri has driven with Lewis (Hamilton) – what the team has achieved with these two drivers – you can’t beat that.

“It’s incredible, it’s been brilliant.”

He gushed over Bottas’ ability in the car and mentioned the challenges of driving alongside someone of the calbre of Hamilton.

“He (Bottas) is a brilliant driver. He’s being criticised too much. Far too much,” said the 52-year-old former McLaren driver.

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“Driving next to Lewis is not child’s play. Being talented and fast is not enough. The experience these people have is just incredible.

“You don’t learn that on the internet or from books.”

Bottas previously mentioned that the seven-time champion would like him to stay on the team, at least until 2022.

“Within the team, I’m sure they’re saying ‘We have a fantastic racing driver here’,” Hakkinen said.

“We have a saying that if a clock is working, you don’t open it up to try to make it better. You just let it run,” he added.

Häkkinen sees Bottas as a very competitive driver that Mercedes can rely on and compared their driving setup to their rivals at Red Bull.

“At Red Bull, everything depends on Max at the moment,” he said.

“I like Sergio, he’s a great guy, but he has to get closer to Max. It must be at least two tenths and no further away, otherwise the car won’t develop fast enough over a weekend.”

He added: “To win the championship, you need two drivers who score consistently, who push themselves with close laptimes in order to develop the car. Every grand prix counts.” 

The next stop on the F1 calendar is the Belgian Grand Prix when Mercedes and Red Bull will go head-to-head once again.

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