The poor start to Valtteri Bottas‘ Mercedes season has led many to speculate this could be the last year he spends with the team.
It was only speculation, Bottas insisted, who said his main focus was winning again rather than worrying about the future.
So far this season, Bottas has failed to score three times out of six races, including a crash with Mercedes protégé George Russell at Imola, a wheel getting stuck in Monaco and a lacklustre weekend in Baku when he finished 12th on pure pace.
Bottas is currently a lowly P6 in the standings, with less than half the points total of teammate Lewis Hamilton and championship leader Max Verstappen.
Valtteri Bottas ‘uncomfortable’ with recent results
Ahead of the French Grand Prix, he admitted that his current situation was uncomfortable.
“All we want to do [at Mercedes] is win, that is our goal every single race and if we’re not winning, it’s not comfortable for anyone and makes us work even harder.
“And now, if I look back to this start of the season, which has been far from ideal for many reasons and many unlucky events, it’s never a comfortable feeling when you don’t have the season that you’d like to have so far.
“But that is how it is, everything in life and sport goes up and down. I know the ups are on the way, the good moments, and the team knows that as well. I feel there’s a good support from the team which makes it easier to handle.
“We’ve analysed everything again from the last race that went wrong and it’s now full focus for the team for this triple header. It’s only the seventh round of 23 so a long, long way to go, but at the moment, as a team, we’re not on the up I would say overall. But we aim to be.”
During the Circuit Paul Ricard press conferences, Bottas was also asked to clarify a rumour that he was already informed by Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff that he wouldn’t race for the team in 2022, with Bottas saying: “With Toto, we speak often, that’s normal for us, and we’ve spoken lately as normal but I can’t confirm that – at least no one’s told me!
“So yeah, that’s not true, that’s speculation but those kind of speculations aren’t made up of any facts, they are made up for the clicks, and that’s how it goes… For now, the gut [feeling] is not saying anything [about my future]. I just want to win races and get the results that I’m aiming for personally.”
Mercedes has been linked with a move for Williams driver George Russell, who raced for the team at the Sakhir Grand Prix last year, coming close to winning the race on his Silver Arrows debut.
However, Bottas said that he wanted to make it easy for Mercedes to decide whether to keep him.
“Everyone knows how the beginning of my season has been, and for sure some people have quite a short memory, therefore they forget why I have this bad result, why I have this amount of points,” he said.
“So I want to make sure it’s going to be an easy decision for [Mercedes to keep me] for the future. That’s my goal and that’s the only thing really now on my mind, focusing on the next races and go from there.
“I don’t need to worry about whether it’s going to be George, one possibility, or anyone else. That’s not on my mind. I just want to win, concluded Bottas.