Potential sticking point in Valtteri Bottas’ F1 future amid Mercedes return rumours

Jamie Woodhouse
Sauber's Valtteri Bottas alongside the Mercedes logo.

Valtteri Bottas and the Mercedes logo.

Valtteri Bottas has confirmed he would ideally like to resolve his F1 future by the summer break, which could rule out a potential return to Mercedes who seem prepared to play a waiting game to replace Lewis Hamilton.

With Nico Hulkenberg confirmed at Sauber for 2025, which will become Audi the year after, it means that either Bottas or Zhou Guanyu will leave the team at the end of F1 2024. Perhaps even both, with Carlos Sainz on the market and of strong interest.

Valtteri Bottas says ‘everything an option’ to Mercedes links

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

Speaking to media, including PlanetF1.com, ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Bottas was asked for an update on his Formula 1 future, the 10-time grand prix winner confirming that talks are ongoing with multiple teams.

“There are still talks, obviously. I don’t think the team is making any decisions very quickly,” said Bottas.

“But yeah, obviously, keeping in the loop myself and the team who I work with already behind me as well. That’s where we are with it. So nothing new from Miami. Still the same situation.

“When you’re in a situation that you are on the free market let’s say, you’re always looking around. So for a while now, it’s been different directions, not just one direction, because you can’t rely on something only one in this sport.

“That’s how it goes. So that hasn’t really changed. Discussions have been going on for some time, two different directions.

“But some progress is being made. But yeah, I’m not just relying on one option for sure.”

Bottas joined his current employer after leaving Mercedes following the 2021 campaign, the Finn talking up the opportunity of a clear project under a multi-year deal, as opposed to battling for one-year extensions at Mercedes.

Bottas, at first, said he was not interested in a return to those days of one-year deals.

“Long term, because I wouldn’t get one year somewhere just to be in F1, just to hang on,” said the Finn when asked what type of contract he is after.

“I need a long-term project with clear goals and with respect for what I can do and deliver. That’s really the main thing.

“And obviously, the faster the car the better. But the main thing is to have good security for years ahead, that we can work together for the goals that we set.”

However, when the possibility of a Mercedes return under a one-year deal was brought up, Bottas suddenly had room for consideration.

Lewis Hamilton’s impending move to Ferrari leaves a seat to be filled at Mercedes, though with the team monitoring the progress of protégé Kimi Antonelli, widely reported to be their preference for 2025, there could be an opening if Mercedes decide that the current Formula 2 star is not yet ready and a stop-gap option is needed.

Pressed directly on whether a Mercedes one-year deal is therefore not an option, Bottas replied: “I think at the moment, everything is an option.

“But yeah, still preference is obviously long term.”

More on the latest F1 driver market ‘silly season’

👉 New driver appears on Audi F1 radar if dream Carlos Sainz signing fails – report

👉 Alex Albon has placed big bet on F1 career with new Williams contract

Since leaving Mercedes, Bottas has certainly come out of his shell, sprouting a now trademark mullet and launching a naked calendar for charity.

But, while he spoke of a need for a team to respect him, he felt a “compromise” could be found in this regard.

“I’m sure there would be the right compromise,” he said. “I’ve been in the corporate world and I know that stuff and I can deal with it.

“But the main thing is, like I mentioned earlier, a team needs to respect who I am and what I can deliver. But I’m sure always compromises can be made.”

If Mercedes are keen to have Antonelli alongside George Russell for 2025, then a decision may take a while in coming, which could prove a sticking point for a Bottas return as he wants his future decided before the summer break.

“I’m quite keen, like I wouldn’t wait for the August break, I think that will be too late on a season like this.” he said.

“So yeah, pretty keen. No like panic at the moment. Like I said, there’s discussions going on and some progress being made. So no panic, but keen obviously to get sorted.”

Bottas’ Sauber team are still searching for a first point of the F1 2024 campaign.

Read next: Mercedes play Max Verstappen waiting game as Helmut Marko clause detail emerges – report