Valtteri Bottas is heading into his fourth season with Mercedes knowing he once again has it all to prove if he wants to remain with the team beyond 2020.
The 30-year-old Finn joined the squad as Lewis Hamilton’s team mate at the end of 2016 following Nico Rosberg’s shock retirement decision and has been on a rolling one-year contract ever since
This year he emphatically proved himself with four race wins and his best ever finish in the drivers championship, claiming second place behind Hamilton from Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel.
Bottas certainly doesn’t want to be anywhere else than Brackley for the foreseeable future, and hopes that he will get another contract extension to take him through into a new era of sporting rules and regulations.
“If I could decide on my future for 2021 it would be a no brainer to continue with this team,” he candidly admitted to GPToday.net
“I really enjoy it here, we are performing better and better, and I am becoming a better driver all the time.”
It’s not just Bottas who will potentially be out of contract at the end of next year. After a relatively stable transfer market in 2019, there are many big names who will potentially be free agents in 12 months time.
Hamilton, Verstappen and Vettel will all be negotiating new contracts in 2020. Only Leclerc’s long-term future is secure after Ferrari recently announced a new five-year contract with its rising young star.
“I can’t remember a time where so many people are expiring with contracts,” Bottas acknowledged. “I think it’s going to be an interesting season for sure.
“Of course, I – like every other driver – will look at all the possible options,” he added.
However, Bottas isn’t pinning all his hopes on staying in Formula 1 and has also been exploring future possibilities in rallying, just as his compatriot Kimi Raikkonen did during his own sabbatical from F1 in 2010-11.
Driving a Citroen DS3 WRC, Bottas won a recent event held at the Circuit Paul Ricard. And earlier this year he was fifth in the Arctic Lapland Rally behind the wheel of a Ford Fiesta WRC.
“It’s a fun thing for me to do and I like it,” he said of his recent rallying endeavours. “It’s good for me to try it and to have something different for my skills.
“You never know what’s ahead in life or what’s gonna happen,” Bottas continued, while insisting that F1 remained his chief focus.
“I haven’t thought that far and I still see myself in Formula 1 for quite some time,” he said. “I would say never say never [but] there is still lots to give and lots to achieve [in F1], for sure.
“One day I’ll see what I want to do, but for the moment I find it a lot of fun.