It is quite a different world that Valtteri Bottas lives in compared to his teammate, Lewis Hamilton. The latter is a 6-time champion and has been the number one driver for Mercedes for several years now but Bottas has had to fight for his survival at the team on a continuous 1-year extension format since 2017.
The intriguing issue is that all of the top drivers are at the end of their contracts for 2020 and Bottas is no exception. Valtteri looks to retain his seat at Mercedes and who can blame him?
“That’s my aim, for sure,” Bottas said. “Because I do enjoy working with this team. So I try to do that for sure.
“But I think it still could be interesting, even from my side, I’m also running out of contract next year. I’ll be keen to see if there’s any other opportunities and whatever. We’ll see next year and you never know what’s going to happen in six months time. Lots of things can happen, but it will be interesting.
“Obviously my aim is to make it a no-brainer decision for the team and hopefully more than one year on paper.”
That also sounds like a driver who knows the chances are slim as Hamilton will be the main focus in 2020 to equal Michael Schumacher’s 7 titles (although the team say they are treating both drivers equally despite this milestone).
There is also the issue of George Russell, Esteban Ocon and other Mercedes young drivers that Bottas will have to fend off. You then also have to top drivers to consider.
Max Verstappen has a cozy relationship with Mercedes and Daniel Ricciardo may be looking to improve his plight at Renault by moving to Mercedes. All these drivers will be out of a contract at the end of the 2020 season.
In fact, the only driver that comes to mind as having a contract beyond 2020 is Charles Leclerc who just signed an extension at Ferrari. Speaking of Ferrari, Sebastian Vettel seems to be in the firing line with the Leclerc extension and some have suggested Lewis Hamilton might be interested in Vettel’s seat. If I were Ferrari, I would look to Daniel Ricciardo before Lewis for shelf life and harmony within the team given Leclerc’s touchy demeanor.
If Lewis did leave Mercedes, Valtteri’s stock would raise significantly as a consistent element in the driving department. Maybe the best hope for Bottas to stay at Mercedes is if he can convince Lewis to move to Ferrari. Otherwise, it will be a tall order to retain that seat beyond 2020.
Ht Tip: Motorsport