Lewis Hamilton ‘would have preferred Valtteri Bottas to stay’ as his Mercedes partner, according to Sky Sports’ Ted Kravitz. The 37-year-old is poi
Lewis Hamilton ‘would have preferred Valtteri Bottas to stay’ as his Mercedes partner, according to Sky Sports’ Ted Kravitz. The 37-year-old is poised to race alongside George Russell in the wake of Bottas’ decision to join Alfa Romeo. But Kravitz thinks he’d have preferred to be racing alongside his old partner instead.
Russell has returned to Mercedes this year after Bottas’ departure.
Many are expecting the former Williams star to take F1 by storm, with some even believing the 24-year-old can compete for the title at the first time of asking.
Hamilton has spoken glowingly of Russell ahead of the new season, which is due to get underway on March 20.
But Kravitz thinks the 37-year-old would prefer to be racing alongside Bottas instead.
“He will push Hamilton but when he’s told to by the team, he will also submit as a second driver,” he told Sky Sports.
On his partnership with Russell, he then added: “I think the dynamic is absolutely fine.
“Yes, Lewis would have preferred Valtteri Bottas to stay because they had an established relationship with good respect, and Lewis didn’t have to worry about the other driver being quicker than him too often.
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“That might not be the case with Russell, but Mercedes will make sure nothing gets in the way of Lewis going for the championship if he is way ahead.”
Mercedes chief Toto Wolff has previously insisted both Hamilton and Russell will have equal opportunities this term.
“We never had a situation where [it was] one and two; they had equal opportunities and the same car,” he said.
“This year, the interesting situation is we have in George the up-and-coming star [in one seat], and undoubtedly the best Formula 1 driver ever in the other seat.
“So the dynamic is new and clearly it’s something that we will try to steer in a direction that has the most positive effect on developing the car and making us overall competitive.”
Bottas is now looking ahead to his new chapter with Alfa Romeo.
And he opened up on his Mercedes exit in January, admitting he had already decided he would switch teams if he wouldn’t be given a longer contract than just a year.
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“It was honestly like we agreed,” Bottas said in the New Year.
“It was not like he told me.
“He knew that, at some point, we need to make decisions, and, already, I had decided myself that if I can’t get two years or more with Mercedes, I’m definitely going to go for something new.
“And it was a simple question of, can he offer me more than two years, two years or more?
“And he said, no, he can’t at this moment, and then it was quite easy.”
He also thought it was ‘natural’ that Russell would be his replacement.
“Obviously, it was very natural to get George in the car,” he said.
“Because he’s been kind of part of the team for a long time,” Bottas explained.
“It’s a new generation, and that’s also how the sport is evolving. Mercedes, they’ve had this Young Driver Programme, and George has been in that for a long time.
“And for them to waste that opportunity, in case he obviously still develops further and becomes more experienced, and even quicker, they didn’t want to miss the opportunity.
“So for me, it’s all good. For me, I’m really happy.”
Russell, meanwhile, has opened up on the W13 and how different it will be.
“We will see with all of the teams,” he said.
“We have got this massive regulation change and we all arrived in Barcelona with our best estimate of where we needed to place the car.
“But obviously there were a lot of things on track that were quite different to what some people may have expected.
“So we need to go away and try to optimise from the limitations we had. We will see some changes come Bahrain and throughout the season.
“I am sure the development is going to be pretty rapid for everyone.
“Whoever can get on top of that the quickest or most efficiently will be the ones on top come the end of the season.”