Valtteri Bottas responds to ‘personal’ question about George Russell after Mercedes swap

Alfa Romeo star Valtteri Bottas declared there is nothing personal about his rivalry with George Russell after the Brit snatched the Finn’s Mercedes seat from him. Bottas enjoyed five championship-laden seasons with the Silver Arrows, but Russell’s form led to the youngster ousting him amid plenty of speculation. 

While Mercedes proved to be far superior to Alfa Romeo in 2021, things have changed with the new era of technical regulations. Mercedes have struggled, and it means Bottas and Russell have often battled at the front of the midfield. 

The duo already have somewhat of a history when fighting for position on the track, stemming from the 2021 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. With speculation suggesting Russell was set to replace Bottas at Mercedes, the two crashed into one another which led to the Brit slapping the 32-year-old on the helmet while the Finn replied with a middle finger.

As Alfa Romeo and Mercedes are closer in terms of competitiveness than people perhaps thought they would be, the two men have clashed a number of times on track – including at Imola last month. Bottas chased Russell down but ultimately couldn’t snatch P4 from the 24-year-old. 

Bottas even battled both Russell and his former teammate Lewis Hamilton at the Miami Grand Prix, but the Finn went wide and allowed the Silver Arrows to pass through. Regardless of the surprising amount of times he has battled Russell on track in 2022, Bottas is adamant there is no bad blood between the two.

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Asked by reporters if it was personal, Bottas said: “No, it’s points.

“We’re chasing points and always, you know, just really trying to maximise every opportunity, every position you can make and obviously, it was a nice target for me in that race [Imola], because, you know, from me to the end of the race, there wasn’t really much action around me.

“So I was catching him like a few tenths a lap, and that just gets me pushing. And the target was more points rather than a person. So, you know, that’s how it goes.”

The Finn has only failed to score points once in 2022 – when he was forced to retire from the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. His P5 finish at Imola was the best result of his season so far.

However, it perhaps should have been P4 as a slow pit stop cost him valuable time. Bottas believes his new team are struggling to piece together a perfect weekend, but hopes they can challenge for podiums once they are able to do so. 

“The fact is that we still haven’t had a perfect race weekend,” he added. “Either we’ve had issues in practice, qualifying or the race, and it is all about getting a perfect weekend.

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“And I think that way we can be pretty close to the podium, obviously, depending on the track, but it is a great motivation and goal for us and what we’re really, really pushing for. We just need to keep making progress and trying to be perfect.”

Ultimately though, Bottas is enjoying life at Alfa Romeo. He is pleased to see the team have moved forwards in 2022 and maintained their performance after a hot start to the season.

“I’m enjoying it a lot,” Bottas said. “We started the season with the first race with points and what I’ve been really enjoying is the progress we’ve been able to make together as a team.

“So we’re definitely not falling back. And that is a motivation for us to go ahead rather than backwards. And yeah, I’m really, really enjoying the ride.”

The 22-race F1 2022 campaign – which is expected to return to a record 23 races in the near future once a Russian Grand Prix replacement is found – continues with the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona on May 22.

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