'Bottas is simply too slow', says Villeneuve

Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes AMG F1. 16.04.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 2, Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Imola
© XPB 

Jacques Villeneuve says that Valtteri Bottas doesn't have the pace needed to challenge for the world championship against the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

Villeneuve said that the events of Imola last week in which he collided with Williams' George Russell proved that Bottas was lacking pace compared to others.

The 1997 world champion told F1-Insider.com that the incident "shows how tense Bottas is already in the second race of the season.

"That’s not going to get any better, because he is simply too slow," he added.

While Russell has since apologised for his outspoken criticism of Bottas immediate after the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Villeneuve says the fault for the crash which took both cars out of the race lay with Bottas.

“If he wasn’t [too slow] he wouldn’t have had to defend his position so over-hard against a Williams.

“Bottas knew exactly that his potential successor was about to overtake him, and risked a serious accident with his short move to the right," he stated. “He mustn’t do that under these difficult track conditions.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff took Bottas side and was critical of Russell's driving and his conduct afterwards, but Villeneuve said the Austrian was wrong to do so.


“I don’t quite understand Toto Wolff,” he said. “Why does he blame the young Briton for the collision?"

And he pointed out that the team now has a serious problem, now that Sergio Perez is proving himself a strong team mate to Max Verstappen at Red Bull.

“Perez is the newcomer to the Red Bull team and yet is already stronger than Bottas, who is in his fifth season with Mercedes,” Villeneuve said. “Perez can help Max more than Bottas can do for Hamilton.”

Hamilton started Sunday's race from pole position alongside Perez but immediately lost the lead to Verstappen, while Bottas lined up in eighth after a disappointing qualifying.

He promptly lost two places when the lights went out, and was still only ninth by the time his collision with Russell put him out of the race.

Mercedes junior Russell remains favourite to take the race seat at the top team for 2022 after successfully subbing for Hamilton at Sakhir last year when the world champion tested positive for coronavirus.

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