Newspaper report said Mercedes were considering ditching Valtteri Bottas during 2021 season, with George Russell a possible replacement; But Bottas says: “I have a contract for this year and I think there’s only one team that does that kind of thing in F1.”
Last Updated: 06/05/21 3:41pm
Valtteri Bottas has rubbished reports that he could be replaced by Mercedes during the 2021 Formula 1 season, calling them “bull****”.
Earlier this week, The Daily Mail reported that Mercedes were ‘losing faith’ in Bottas and that Lewis Hamilton ‘could have a new team-mate before the end of the season’, with Williams driver George Russell the favourite.
The story followed a difficult Portuguese GP for Bottas, who has only scored 32 points through the first three rounds of the 2021 season – less than half of Hamilton.
But questioned about the report ahead of the Spanish GP, Bottas, who agreed a one year contract for 2021, insisted he was going nowhere.
“I know that I’m not going to be replaced in the middle of the season,” said the Finnish driver. “As a team, we don’t do that.
“I have a contract for this year and I think there’s only one team that does that kind of thing in F1, and we are not them.
“So no pressure from my side. I know how things are – there’s always bull**** around. That’s part of the sport.”
Bottas was undoubtedly referring to Red Bull as the “one team that does that kind of thing” – with Mercedes’ main rivals having replaced drivers mid-season twice in recent years, in 2016 and 2019.
“If I do my job well the talking will stop pretty quickly,” added Bottas, who joined Mercedes in 2017 but has yet to truly challenge Hamilton for the title.
Hamilton later stuck up for his team-mate, calling Mercedes line-up “the best” and urging critics to “give him a break”.
“From what I’ve experienced from the relationship with Valtteri, I think he’s been an a amazing team-mate,” said F1’s seven-time champion.
“And if I’m being honest, I think we have the best line-up currently in terms of deliverables and the general knowledge in terms of moving our car forwards.
“At some stage it’s going to shift, it’s going to change. I’m not going to be here forever, Valtteri won’t be here forever – but right nowIi think we’ve delivered time and time again over the years and we continue to.
“Valtteri finished on pole for the last race and it’s only the fourth race. I think people need to give him a break and just let him continue doing what he’s doing.”
Bottas talks 2021 form and Mercedes future
Bottas’ bid to land his first F1 championship has got off to a shaky start in 2021, with two third-place finishes in Bahrain and Portugal sandwiching a disappointing DNF at Imola.
He is currently fourth in the standings, some 37 points behind Hamilton. But Bottas is remaining positive ahead of this weekend’s race in Barcelona.
“There’s still 20 races to go which is a huge amount of points and I’m definitely not giving up on the goal this year,” he said. “I believe that hard work will pay off so I will keep working hard and keep believing.”
Pressure has always been on Bottas through his four seasons with Mercedes, particularly as there have been constant rumours about who could replace him. The emergence of Russell, a Mercedes junior, and his strong showing alongside Bottas in Bahrain last year has only increased transfer gossip.
For now, Bottas is staying focused but admits he doesn’t know if he’ll be a Mercedes driver in 2022.
“It’s still early days – I haven’t thought about next year,” he said. “I’m focused on the here and now. I have no idea and at the moment, I don’t care.”