Valtteri Bottas expects his contract negotiations with Sauber to kick off in early 2024 as the link-up with Audi looms.
The Finn made the switch to the Alfa Romeo/Sauber squad at the end of 2021 following a long stint with Mercedes, with the experienced multiple Grand Prix winner taking on a team leadership role with the midfield outfit.
With Alfa Romeo withdrawing from F1 after 2023, the team reverts to Sauber for two years of independence before linking up with Audi as the German manufacturer enters F1 by taking over a majority shareholding position at Hinwil.
Valtteri Bottas: I definitely want to be part of the Audi project
Bottas is entering the final year of his current contract with Sauber, and the Finn has revealed he is likely to begin contract negotiations for his future over the first few months of 2024.
“So I’m signed until [the] end of next year and there haven’t been talks yet,” Bottas told the UK’s Express Sport.
“We have agreed to talk next year… I would say in the first quarter of next year to finalise things and make sure we’re all on the same page.”
Bottas is just one of many drivers whose contract comes to an end after 2024, with more than half the grid’s deals with their current teams set to expire. The likely chaos coming for 2025 is in stark contrast to the 2023/24 off-season, in which the entire grid remains static for a second consecutive season.
“It’s interesting times in F1 obviously,” Bottas said.
“I think there’s actually many drivers without contracts [beyond 2024] so it’s going to be quite interesting actually to follow how things are going to fall into place.
“For me the goal is clear. I would definitely want to be a part of the Audi project, so that’s my goal and we’ll find out next year what happens.”
Valtteri Bottas: Audi will be a big, big boost for the team
Speaking in an exclusive interview with PlanetF1.com in mid-2023, Bottas said there’s no sense of the team ‘treading water’ waiting for the arrival in Audi in two years time.
“In this sport, you can’t wait. Otherwise, we’re going to be at the back of the grid,” he said.
“So we need to keep working and finding more but, yeah, for sure, the future plans for the team are definitely interesting and it’s going to be a big, big boost for the team, eventually.”
With Bottas one of the best-placed drivers on the grid to evaluate where a leading team like Mercedes enjoys an advantage over smaller outfits like Sauber, the Finn said the biggest area of weakness he’s identified is that of personnel – an area the team are slowly bolstering ahead of Audi’s arrival.
“I think the one big thing, I would say, is human power,” he said.
“Still, there could be more people at the factory. I think our team is hiring all the time now, trying to recruit more as we have more resources than the team had a few years ago.
“We need more people and more talent. I think that’s the biggest thing I would say. In terms of the factory and facilities, they are there. It’s just about human performance.”