Valtteri Bottas outlines one crucial Mercedes contract factor if return is to happen

Thomas Maher
Valtteri Bottas, in his race suit, at the 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Valtteri Bottas has outlined the grounds under which he'd chat with Mercedes about a 2025 return.

With a Mercedes seat up for grabs, would Valtteri Bottas be open to returning to the team he departed at the conclusion of 2021?

Mercedes currently has a vacant cockpit for the 2025 season, following the recent news that Lewis Hamilton will depart the team after more than a decade – the seven-time World Champion will ditch Brackley for Maranello as he joins Ferrari next season.

Valtteri Bottas: Toto Wolff must be busy!

With Mercedes now taking their time to evaluate the next step they wish to take on the driver front by finding the right person to slot into Hamilton’s seat and race alongside George Russell, one name linked with the vacant seat is Valtteri Bottas.

The Finn raced for Mercedes between 2017 and 2021, playing very capable support for Hamilton’s titles over those years, and contributing to the team’s successful championship victories.

However, he left Mercedes at the conclusion of 2021 after being offered a long-term deal to race for Alfa Romeo/Sauber, now Stake F1.

Speaking in an exclusive, far-reaching, conversation with PlanetF1.com about his career, Bottas laughed when asked about whether Toto Wolff has been in touch with him about getting the band back together for 2025.

“No, actually! I think he’s been busy. Nothing so far!” he said.

Bottas’ deal with Sauber comes to an end at the conclusion of 2024, meaning he will have to engage in contract negotiations for ’25, likely meaning negotiation with Audi involvement as the Finn is unlikely to accept a one-year deal to tide him over until Audi’s arrival in 2026.

With longevity a key factor in Bottas’ contract negotiations, he said he’d be open to having a chat with Mercedes if a longer-team deal was on the table.

“Only if it was a lot more than a one-year contract,” he said, when asked outright if a return to Mercedes was something he’d be interested in.

“If it was a one-year deal, then it wouldn’t make sense for me. But, for long-term, of course there could be a discussion.”

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Valtteri Bottas willing to change for change of title contention

Since leaving Mercedes, Bottas has morphed into something of a free spirit, with an increasing confidence to showcase his personality more clearly than he did in the past.

To that end, Bottas has become almost as famous for being nude as often as possible, showcasing his posterior for calendars, as well as growing a now-bleached blonde mullet.

Also not averse to some downright baffling but hilarious social media posts, Bottas said he now “has the balls” to do what he likes, to a certain extent.

“I feel like that was a bit of the case,” he said, when asked if he felt he had to keep certain aspects of his personality under wraps.

“But also like some projects or businesses that I’ve jumped into, I wasn’t allowed to do before. An example is the gin brand of me and my girlfriend [Tiffany Cromwell], I wasn’t allowed to do anything involving alcohol with a previous team. Stuff like that also just gives me some opportunities like that.”

What would have happened had he shown up with such an eye-catching hairdo and moustache combination at Mercedes?

“It would not have happened five years ago!” he laughed.

“Yeah, it’s hard to say. Five years is a long time and things can change. I actually didn’t even stress about it when it was launched, like what people think or if there’s going to be negative things.

“You can’t really say anything negative when it’s for charity, and stuff like that. But I would not have had the balls to do it five years ago.”

But where has that confidence come from? Is it simply a case that Bottas has grown into his skin in his 30s, as many do, or has F1 allowed him to find that self-confidence?

“Formula 1 helps, it’s a sport that you learn so much about yourself. You always have ups and downs, you definitely learn a lot about life,” he said.

“I’ve been, in the past, with a big brand and you could say more corporate. It’s hard to judge but if I have to change certain things here and there for a chance of fighting for the world championship, then it’s no problem.”

But, while Bottas is willing to change certain aspects to conform with a team’s wishes, he confirmed he wouldn’t like having to put a lid on his self-expression – including his hair.

“I wouldn’t like that,” he said, when asked if he would do what former McLaren team boss Ron Dennis used to insist of his drivers when he prescribed certain hair lengths and exact facial hair allowances.

“I think those days are gone now. I think it’s a different world nowadays, thank god!”

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Valtteri Bottas, Thomas Maher, 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix.
Valtteri Bottas has outlined the grounds under which he'd chat with Mercedes about a 2025 return.