Publicly, Mercedes hasn’t shut the door on recruiting Sebastian Vettel.
Publicly, Mercedes hasn’t shut the door on recruiting Sebastian Vettel.

Bottas responds to Sebastian Vettel speculation

Valtteri Bottas insists he has "no stress" about rumours that he could be replaced at Mercedes - and doesn't believe Sebastian Vettel is a 2021 contender.

Bottas, like teammate Lewis Hamilton, is out of contract with F1's world champions at the end of the season, but while Mercedes have pledged to keep star driver Hamilton, Bottas's future is unclear.

A number of drivers have been linked with one of the sport's most coveted seats, with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff mentioning Vettel, along with Silver Arrows juniors George Russell and Esteban Ocon, as possibilities.

But speaking on Wednesday's Sky F1 Vodcast, Bottas, who has effectively been on one-year rolling contracts since joining Mercedes in 2017, said he found much of the speculation "funny".

"It's the same as every year for me," the Finn said. "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. Things will then sort themselves one way or another, whatever's going to happen. I've no stress about that at all."

Bottas added that the surprise availability of Vettel, the four-time world champion who is leaving Ferrari, on the driver market didn't concern him as - despite Wolff's comments last week - Mercedes had given him assurances.

"It doesn't get to you," Bottas said. "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."

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BOTTAS BACKS HAMILTON FOR SPEAKING OUT

Bottas also insisted he was "fully supporting" Hamilton and his comments about racism in recent weeks.

Hamilton, F1's six-time champion and only black driver, has posted passionately in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

"I think it's good to speak out, it's a very important matter," said Bottas, Hamilton's teammate for the last three seasons. "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."

RED BULL POSE A THREAT IN AUSTRIA

The delayed F1 2020 season is set to start on July 5 with the first of two back-to-back races in Austria, and Mercedes will be looking to secure a seventh straight clean sweep of the championships this year.

Their main rivals at pre-season testing, back in February, appeared to be Red Bull, and Max Verstappen has won the last two events in Spielberg.

While Bottas is somewhat of an Austria master himself - securing two of his 11 pole positions there and winning once - he admitted: "Red Bull definitely comes to mind (as a worry) because I think they showed really good performance in testing and I'm sure they're putting it all in for that race in Austria, their home race.

"For sure they will be strong, but who knows what people have been able to deliver since testing. We didn't get to see a single session in Melbourne, which team had bigger upgrades or anything.

"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."

This article first appeared on Sky Sports and was reproduced with permission

Originally published as Mercedes star's emphatic Vettel claim

News Corp Australia


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