Valtteri Bottas says he’s been told Mercedes is not considering signing Sebastian Vettel for the 2021 Formula 1 season, and speculation around the outgoing Ferrari driver has made him laugh.
Vettel will leave Ferrari at the end of the 2020 season, to be replaced by Carlos Sainz Jr, and has yet to indicate whether he wishes to stay in F1 or which team would be his preference.
“I got a pretty straight message that no, they’re not considering Seb. So I said fine, no worries then!” :: Valtteri Bottas
It appears Vettel’s options are limited as Red Bull is not interested in re-signing its former driver and Mercedes has made it clear that current drivers Lewis Hamilton and Bottas are the priorities, along with its proteges George Russell and Esteban Ocon.
Although Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff has been keen not to be disrespectful to four-time world champion Vettel, he has also said that mentioning Vettel as a possible 2021 option is not just “lip service”.
But Bottas, who is hoping to convince Mercedes to keep him for a fifth season, says he is not concerned by speculation linking Vettel to his seat.
“It doesn’t get to you,” he told Sky Sports F1. “We’ve been very honest with my team all the time, what the situation is and how it’s going to be contract-wise, etc.
“I got a pretty straight message that no, they’re not considering Seb.
“So I said fine, no worries then!”
Bottas has had his Mercedes spell extended with every season so far, and been keen to earn a multi-year deal, although it has been reported that his management has held initial discussions with Renault on the off chance he loses his Mercedes drive.
He enjoyed his best season in F1 in 2019 when he finished runner-up to Hamilton in the points and won four races.
Bottas said he hoped to make it a “no-brainer” for Mercedes to keep him beyond 2020 and said the current situation is “the same as every year” as even his one-year deals have contained an option for the team to keep him on.
“There’s always talks,” he said. “I find it quite funny that with not even a single race done, there’s been people getting my seat, etc.
“It made me laugh a couple of times!
“So, there’s no pressure from that side. Because I still have my clear goal for the season in my mind and that’s it.
“Things will then sort themselves one way or another, whatever’s going to happen. I’ve no stress about that at all.”
Bottas said he has no idea what Vettel plans to do beyond 2020, with Vettel’s options limited to a project like Renault or trying to force his way into the Racing Point/Aston Martin line-up if Mercedes does not make an unlikely move.
Apart from acknowledging the “sparks” between Vettel and team-mate Charles Leclerc, Bottas said he also did not know what “really happened” at Ferrari – “if he wanted to leave, or somebody wanted him to leave”.
“Everyone makes their own decisions,” said Bottas.
“I don’t even know if he wants to stay in F1 or not.”