Valtteri Bottas says it is “good for the team” that Mercedes have a blank page for their 2022 driver line-up – whether he is a part of it or not.
The Finn has only ever been signed on rolling one-year contracts by the World Champions since joining them in 2017, always doing enough to have his deal renewed.
But after four seasons in which he has failed to sustain a meaningful World Championship challenge to his team-mate Sir Lewis Hamilton in the drivers’ battle, Bottas will know the pressure is well and truly on him in 2021.
And more so than ever given 2022 will be a clean slate all round, with sweeping new regulation changes in F1 and Mercedes having no drivers yet tied down as Hamilton has also agreed only a 12-month extension.
Plus, for Bottas there is the spectre of young guns George Russell and possibly even Max Verstappen looming large and eyeing his car with envy.
It was August last year when Bottas signed his contract for 2021 and he knows his future is unlikely to be resolved early this time around, understanding why Mercedes want to leave all possibilities open.
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— Valtteri Bottas (@ValtteriBottas) March 7, 2021
“I’m honestly in no rush for that,” said Bottas, quoted by Autosport, referring to contract talks.
“I kind of get it. If the team has the opportunity for the big change coming in 2022 to have options, to choose both of their drivers, I think it’s good for the team.
“But yeah, honestly, from my side, no rush really. I’m just full gas for the season and trying to get to my goals.
“Eventually it will be a talking point. Not quite yet.”
Having won the opening race of 2020, the Austrian Grand Prix, Bottas found himself trailing Hamilton in the standings after round three at Silverstone and then gradually fell further and further behind.
He admitted it would be “disappointing” if he never ‘did a Nico Rosberg’ and got the better of Hamilton over the course of a season even once, with the German retiring straight after becoming World Champion in 2016.
“Of course, in a way it would be disappointing because I’ve been team-mates with Lewis now several years, and obviously every year that’s the goal,” said Bottas.
“But what would be more disappointing is if I look back and realise things I could have done better or I should have put in more effort.
“I don’t want to leave any ‘what ifs’ after this year, that’s the ultimate goal. If I give everything I have, if I maximise myself and the people around me and give everything I have, then there’s no regrets.”