Ex-F1 racer Ralf Schumacher has criticised Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas for his lack of pace at Imola and his attitude following his high-impact collision with George Russell.
The pair collided at Tamburello as Bottas was defending against the Williams driver for P9 in the 2021 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Following the multi-impact collision, Bottas and Russell exchanged words and were evidently less than pleased with each other.
Russell eventually posted an apology on social media on Monday evening, but Schumacher nevertheless believes Bottas needs to do better if he wants to have any chance of still being a Mercedes driver next season.
“Bottas has to ask himself why he has to defend himself against a Williams,” Schumacher wrote in his latest column for Sky Germany.
“George’s speculation that Valtteri acted like this because of the special scenario – Russell is a Mercedes junior and has ambitions for the Bottas cockpit – Toto Wolff dismissed as ‘bullsh*t’.
“At over 300 km/h Bottas certainly doesn’t want to play games, but he certainly didn’t want to let Russell just pass by either. And I didn’t like his attitude in the interviews that followed.
“In general, he has to ask himself why he had to defend himself against a Williams while lying deep in midfield.
“He’s been on a similar level to Hamilton so many times, but he’s a long way off at the moment.
“At Mercedes, they try to explain it with a lack of grip on Botta’s rear axle – for me, the entire Valtteri Bottas package currently lacks grip.
“There has to be more to come, otherwise he will quickly be sidelined,” he warned.
Discussing the crash between Bottas and Russell, Schumacher said he believes “neither is blameless.”
“The question of guilt has and will certainly be discussed a lot. Neither of them is blameless.
“That is how the FIA race stewards, who did not issue a penalty, saw it. Of course it was very ambitious for George to overtake a Mercedes in his Williams at this point.
“Big risk, but Valtteri just had to expect someone to come. Russell was behind him – he knew that – even with the DRS open – he can’t twitch over like that, because then the track is simply too narrow for two cars.
“Bottas was startled, withdrew again, by then it was already too late. Russell had reacted to his twitching, had swerved to the right, came onto the wet grass, turned to the left and cleared Bottas with him.”