Valtteri Bottas is amused by speculation about his future with Mercedes without even a race even taking place this season – and denies that Sebastian Vettel could replace him.
The Finnish driver is out of contract next year at the end of the season, which has been curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has previously mentioned Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel as an option along with George Russell and Estaban Ocon, but Bottas remains cool about the situation.
Bottas has been effectively given one-year rolling deals with Mercedes since signing with the Silver Arrows in 2017, leading to persistent speculation about his future alongside Lewis Hamilton.
There’s no pressure
Valtteri Bottas on a Sky F1 Vodcast said, ‘It’s the same as every year for me. I find it quite funny that with not even a single race done, there’s been people getting my seat. It made me laugh! So there’s no pressure from that side.
‘I have my clear goal for the season in my mind and that’s it.
Vettel is leaving Ferrari and would be a high profile candidate for the team but Bottas insisted that is not an option.
‘It doesn’t get to you,’ he added. ‘We’ve been very honest about what the situation is all the time about contracts, and I got a pretty straight message that no, they’re not considering Seb. So I said “fine, no worries then”.
Bottas backs Hamilton for speaking out
His team-mate Hamilton’s future has also been subject to speculation with the British driver also out of contract next season.
And the six-time world champion has recently been speaking out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement with protests for equality taking place across the world after the killing of George Floyd.
Valtteri Bottas said he is fully supportive of Hamilton, adding: ‘I think it’s good to speak out, it’s a very important matter. The whole team of ours, including me, we support diversity.
‘I think he’s got the right mindset, because he’s obviously got lots of followers and lots of power in that sense, so it’s good that he speaks out. The full team of us is fully supporting that.’
Bottas suspicious of Red Bull threat in Austria
The F1 season has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic but is set to begin on July 5 with back-to-back races in Austria and Mercedes will be seeking to secure a seventh straight clean sweep of the championships in 2010.
Their main rivals at pre-season testing, in February, were Red Bull, and Max Verstappen has won the past two events in Spielberg.
While Bottas is somewhat of an Austria master himself – securing two of his 11 pole positions there and winning once – that he admitted, “Red Bull absolutely comes to mind [as a worry] because I think they showed excellent performance in testing and I’m sure they’re putting it all set for that race in Austria, their home race.
“I still think the top three teams are going to be between us, Red Bull and Ferrari, but how the order and gaps are going to be, I have no idea.”
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