George Russell should take time to adapt to life at Mercedes and learn as much as he can from Lewis Hamilton before setting his sights on race wins and world titles, says the driver he will replace, Valtteri Bottas.
Bottas has spent the last five seasons as Hamilton's teammate at Mercedes but will depart for Alfa Romeo in 2022, with Russell gaining promotion to the Silver Arrows after three campaigns with Williams.
Asked what advice he would give his replacement during an appearance on the Beyond the Grid podcast, Bottas admitted that he was "too harsh" on himself shortly after he joined Mercedes, and urged Russell to avoid doing the same.
"Don't think too short term, because it's a sport that there's so much always to learn, and take things step by step," said Bottas.
"He's a talented driver and he's gonna have a great team to support him. He's going to be alongside Lewis [who] he will be able to learn from.
"I don't think I need to give too [much] advice, just maybe [to avoid] the mistake I did – I was a bit too harsh on myself in the very beginning. [But] he'll be fine, I'm sure."
"I needed to be more patient"
Bottas expanded on those points when asked what he would tell himself ahead of his own Mercedes move in 2017, knowing as much as he does now.
"Probably [to be] a bit more patient, in a way," Bottas commented.
"I came into 2017 saying to myself that I'm going to win the championship now. Like, I've got to do it now. And I've got to immediately get poles, wins, which I got pretty quickly. But then I'm sure there's times that I was trying too hard.
"The level Lewis is performing [at] is quite difficult to match. And it's such a fine sport as well, that if you try too much, then normally the stopwatch doesn't like it.
"Especially in 2018, it started quite OK with good performances, but no wins. Then it just went downwards and it was tough. So I would say [be] a bit more patient."
Longer-term deal would have helped
Russell will step up to Mercedes on a "long-term" deal, while Bottas was limited to one-year extensions towards the end of each season, a situation the Finn feels negatively impacted his performance.
"If I knew in 2017 that I would be with a team for five years, I think I would have allowed myself a bit more time to learn about things step by step and also be a bit more forgiving to myself," he went on to explain.
"But in my mind, I thought it was like a one-year opportunity. And then next year, [the] same thing. It was always one year, one year one year... I never had that peace of mind to give me a bit of flexibility on my own criticism."
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