Rumours have circulated around the Mercedes junior driver ever since he stepped into Hamilton’s shoes in Bahrain, with an outstanding debut performance alongside Bottas that nearly saw him take the win for the seven-time world champions.
Bottas has been inadvertently adding fuel to the fire this season after his clocking his worst start to a Mercedes season ever, struggling to score higher than P3, slipping to sixth in the driver standings, 58 points behind the championship leader Max Verstappen.
But the 2009 world champion was sympathetic towards Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, with Russell and Bottas both out of contract come the end of the season, but believed the Finn does have choices if he were axed from the team.
“It’s a tricky one, you know, Rubins [Barrichello], for example, wasn’t as strong as Michael [Schumacher] in a Ferrari, but he still got a great drive next year, he was actually my team-mate,” Button told Express Sport.
“So, I mean, there’s a possibility of getting a drive, but going back to his performance, we all have a bad race now and again.
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“But it seems to be mostly bad races so far this year, It’s been a really, really tough year for him.
“And maybe he’s had bad races previously, but we’ve not seen it because the Mercedes has been so far out front. You can be 10 seconds behind your team-mate or 20 seconds behind your team-mate, and you can still finish second, whereas now they’re in the fight a little bit more with other teams.
“You can see the difference in position and the points gain per race.
“So I think Mercedes were happy with him not being as quick as Lewis previously, it kept Lewis calm. Lewis could fight for the championship, take victories easier.
“And I think the reason why they were OK with that is because Valtteri was bringing home a lot of points for the Constructors’, whereas now he’s not bringing up a lot of points Constructors’, it’s actually Red Bull that has the second driver that’s doing really well.
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“That was normally their downfall. So, yeah, they have to ask if they need to look at other options for next year, I think.
“And the best option, even though I’m a senior adviser at Williams, I have to say the best option is George. I’m sure I know that he would love to keep it, but they also understand that you can’t stand in the way of someone’s opportunity to be in the quickest car on the grid.”
Bottas admitted ahead of the French Grand Prix that conversations had yet to start with Mercedes regarding 2022, with Russell adding he was keen to secure his future in F1 by the summer break.
And Button believes if Russell is approached by Mercedes, Williams would never stand in his way.
“The exciting thing about Williams is they are under new ownership and management and they have the funding, which is amazing, and they know where to put it. It’s not like they’re saying, well, we have this, they know where it’s going,” he added.
“It’s already in the works, but they’re not going to be winning races next year.
“It’s going to take a couple of years to really get to grips with what they have and improve and move up the grid.
“So, yes, I mean, I know they’d love to keep George because he is a great talent. He’s not just fast, but he actually works really hard, which is good to see.
“And he’s very confident in his own ability, which he should be.
“But I think after his performance in the Mercedes in Bahrain. It’s tough to say no, you got to stay here, you have a contract.