Valtteri Bottas will be a free agent at the end of the season unless he re-ups with the Mercedes Formula 1 team.
Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff says there is interest from other teams over the availability of driver Valtteri Bottas for the 2020 season, as Bottas has yet to sign a deal with Mercedes for next year.
Valtteri Bottas, Esteban Ocon, George Russell — all three of these drivers, and possibly a few more within the Formula 1 paddock — will feel as though they have a strong chance of being teammate to Lewis Hamilton in 2020 at Mercedes.
With Bottas’s current deal up at the end of the season, Wolff told media in the Friday press conference at Hockenheim ahead of Sunday’s F1 German Grand Prix that a decision on the future of Bottas would be made early in August, but he backtracked slightly after second practice, saying that Bottas also had to make a decision on his future.
“It’s not a decision on Valtteri, it’s also a decision that Valtteri needs to take,” said Wolff. “One must not forget that he is performing strong and there is interest in the market for him also, so it’s for all of us to come together for a good solution, and looking ahead also, it’s not only about 2020.”
After a disappointing campaign in 2018, the Finn failing to score a win, 2019 has been a far stronger year. Currently the only realistic challenger to teammate Lewis Hamilton for the title, Wolff says that Bottas has made the step up in performance that they wanted to see this season.
“He’s made that step,” continued Wolff. “He’s really strong in qualifying and you can see that they (Bottas and Hamilton) are a match in most of the races. In most of the qualifying and races, there is still the overheating issue, but this is something we can see and he is really progressing.”
Both in the press conference and after practice, Wolff said that this driver appointment would not be made with a singular view on 2020, but with a longer, broader vision for the future of the team – possibly for a future post-Hamilton.
If this is the case, Bottas may be in the seat for another year with the impressive GP3 and F2 champion Russell stepping up from Williams for 2021. Alternatively, Russell could find himself promoted after just a single year in the sport.
With ‘Silly Season’ in full swing, rumors have been swirling that Bottas may be interesting Ferrari. Sebastian Vettel has been a shadow of his former self, only occasionally showing glimpses of his Red Bull brilliance, and Bottas is viewed as an ideal teammate to their long-term future star, Charles Leclerc.
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