Valtteri Bottas has called on Mercedes to hand him a long-term contract so he doesn’t have to wait out the 2020 F1 campaign in limbo. The Finn is tied down with the reigning world champions until the end of the coming season, which gets underway with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne next month.
Toto Wolff and co. will be assessing their options for beyond then, with Bottas contending against a whole host of drivers for a seat alongside Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton’s future is in the balance too with his contract also expiring in the winter, but he’s more likely than the 30-year-old to be handed a deal soon with Mercedes desperate to keep hold of the six-time title winner.
Bottas has opened up on his future having impressed in the first winter test at Spain’s Circuit de Catalunya last week.
And, while he’s in no desperate rush to put pen to paper, he’s put pressure on Mercedes to reward him with an agreement that will last longer than just 12 months.
“It’s no secret that my contract expires at the end of this season, so it is natural that you want to start discussions quite early,” Bottas told Finnish outlet MTV.
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“However, it doesn’t make much sense to do it too early, when we are focusing on the car’s performance.
“At the same time, we want to improve the way we do it compared to last year. It can be done more smoothly and with slightly fewer headlines.”
Asked if he would like to end his run of one-year contracts, Bottas said: “Is Toto here? It helps to have a longer contract.
“If you know what your future is and feel comfortable, it’s a win-win situation. If a team wants a driver for a long time, the driver is happy and you can just focus on developing the car and not thinking about the future.
“The team also doesn’t have to hide anything from the driver. It doesn’t always happen in Formula 1, which is a political sport.
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“There are always a lot of drivers who want a seat and many of the teams keep their options open. At the end of the day it’s too early to think about next year.”
While Bottas is in a decent position to keep his seat alongside Hamilton if he makes a strong start to the 2020 season, Mercedes can virtually take their pick from the grid of drivers to replace him.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc – despite their newly-inked long-term contracts – are possible targets for the Silver Arrows.
Esteban Ocon might be prised away from Renault having come through Mercedes’ development ranks, while Williams’ George Russell has impressed on test runs for Mercedes.
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