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Formula 1

Bottas needs ‘different mindset’ to stay in F1 post-Mercedes

by Josh Suttill
3 min read

Valtteri Bottas says he would require “a different mindset” to race on in F1 if he loses his Mercedes seat, accepting that he would likely face a “project” at any new team.

However, Bottas says it “could be interesting” to help build up an F1 outfit after having raced for the title-winning Mercedes squad since 2017.

Bottas, who has helped Mercedes to a constructors’ title in each full season he’s had with the German manufacturer so far, is in a fight against the marque’s protege George Russell to retain his seat for 2022 and continue alongside Lewis Hamilton.

Mercedes has long maintained that Bottas still has a genuine chance at staying on despite how highly it rates Russell, but there is a distinct possibility the Finn will need to look for alternative options for next year.

But staying on the grid after a Mercedes axe would probably entail Bottas accepting a contract with a team fighting towards the rear of the field like Alfa Romeo or Williams, given the vast majority of teams higher up the standings have already sorted their 2022 line-ups – and there’s been very little to suggest he’d have a shot at ousting the yet-to-be-confirmed Sergio Perez at Red Bull.

Asked by The Race about the adjustment that would come with signing for a currently lower-ranked team and facing a longer-term project in F1, Bottas said: “It’s all really hypothetical thinking and, but if I’m being really honest then yes, for sure it would be different kind of mindset.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Steiermark Grand Prix Qualifying Day Spielberg, Austria

“It would be a completely new chapter in the career and I think your mental approach is gonna be different, [you] most likely wouldn’t be fighting for the wins and the title at least in the beginning.

“So it would be a new project. On the other hand, that could be also very interesting.

“But as I said before, my intentions are keeping my seat, because I think we make a really strong team now at Mercedes as we are. So, let’s see.”

The Finn, who will turn 32 next month, has also dabbled in rallying during his Mercedes stint and has proved enthusiastic enough about the discipline to lead to theories that he could focus on it full-time if he’s dropped by Mercedes.

“I don’t like to think that way, I always try to think positive,” Bottas said when asked if he would consider ending his F1 career in favour of rallying.

“And I know what I want and I want to stay with the [Mercedes] team.

“I think that’s the best chance for me to win races next year and fight for the title. For some reason, if not, I would look at other options in Formula 1, of course, because I love Formula 1, I enjoy it. I still think I have quite a good few years ahead of me.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship British Grand Prix Preparation Day Silverstone, England

“And then, never say never. I don’t know. Rally, I really enjoy. It’s really good fun every time I’ve been in a rally car. I’ve been always smiling, so it’s good fun, but to actually make a job out of it could be quite tricky.

“The [rally specialist] guys are pretty competitive, they’ve done it all their life.

“Never say never but at the moment full focus is Formula 1 and first of all, this [British GP] weekend.”

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