Are we reading too much into this, or could it be a sign of things to come?
Changes, which may or may not be meaningful, have been made to the respective Instagram profiles of Valtteri Bottas and George Russell.
The Express are reporting that “last month, Bottas’ Instagram bio had a tag to Mercedes’ F1 account – but that has since been deleted.
“Meanwhile, Russell has also removed all mention of Williams from his bio, which now just reads ‘Formula 1 Driver’.”
This is the sort of thing that occurs when a footballer might be on the brink of a transfer, so does it suggest that Russell may be about to displace Bottas at Mercedes for 2021?
Well, it will certainly appeal to those who like to buy into the F1 rumour mill and the conspiracy theorists that think something may be afoot.
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Certainly there was plenty of evidence from the Sakhir Grand Prix that Russell, who was standing in for Lewis Hamilton following the seven-time World Champion’s positive COVID-19 test, is ready to make a permanent step up from Williams.
The 22-year-old Briton narrowly missed out to Bottas for pole position, but beat him off the start line to take a lead which he held until a botched double-stack pit-stop under the Safety Car dropped the duo out of the top three.
Even then, Russell overtook Bottas – admittedly with the Finn on the same set of old hard tyres as before his failed pit-stop – and still had a chance to catch Sergio Perez for the race win until he suffered a puncture.
For Bottas, who ended up finishing eighth, it was not the end he wanted to a weekend in which he had the ideal chance to stamp his authority and show Mercedes have made the right decision in retaining his services for 2021.
Of course, with one race of the season left to go, the constructors’ World Champions are only going to stick to the party line at this stage and publicly confirm their faith in Bottas.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff admitted Bottas “did not shine” in the second of the two Bahrain races, and the 31-year-old driver has finished no higher than eighth in any of the last three grands prix.
But Wolff also said of a potential all-British line-up of Lewis Hamilton and Russell: “George is a Williams driver, he is signed up to Williams and our driver line-up is Valtteri and Lewis, so I don’t see this as a realistic situation at that moment of time .
“But I can understand it would be an interesting situation, both in the team and maybe a bit of a wild ride for all of us. Maybe we’ll have that in the future.”
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