Valtteri Bottas rubbishes Mercedes mid-season F1 exit report: ‘There’s only one team that does that’

Valtteri Bottas has rubbished reports that he could be replaced by Mercedes during the 2021 Formula 1 season, calling them “bull****”.

Earlier this week, The Daily Mail reported that Mercedes were ‘losing faith’ in Bottas and that Lewis Hamilton ‘could have a new team-mate before the end of the season’, with Williams driver George Russell the favourite.

The story followed a difficult Portuguese GP for Bottas, who has only scored 32 points through the first three rounds of the 2021 season – less than half of Hamilton.

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But questioned about the report ahead of the Spanish GP, Bottas, who agreed a one year contract for 2021, insisted he was going nowhere.

“I know that I’m not going to be replaced in the middle of the season,” said the Finnish driver. “As a team, we don’t do that.

Responding to the rumours 🎙👀#SkyF1 | #F1 | #SpanishGP 🇪🇸

“I have a contract for this year and I think there’s only one team that does that kind of thing in F1, and we are not them.

“So no pressure from my side. I know how things are – there’s always bull**** around. That’s part of the sport.”

Bottas was undoubtedly referring to Red Bull as the “one team that does that kind of thing” – with Mercedes’ main rivals having replaced drivers mid-season twice in recent years, in 2016 and 2019.

“If I do my job well the talking will stop pretty quickly,” added Bottas, who joined Mercedes in 2017 but has yet to truly challenge Hamilton for the title.

Bottas talks 2021 form and Mercedes future

Bottas’ bid to land his first F1 championship has got off to a shaky start in 2021, with two third-place finishes in Bahrain and Portugal sandwiching a disappointing DNF at Imola.

He is currently fourth in the standings, some 37 points behind Hamilton. But Bottas is remaining positive ahead of this weekend’s race in Barcelona.

“There’s still 20 races to go which is a huge amount of points and I’m definitely not giving up on the goal this year,” he said. “I believe that hard work will pay off so I will keep working hard and keep believing.”

Pressure has always been on Bottas through his four seasons with Mercedes, particularly as there have been constant rumours about who could replace him. The emergence of Russell, a Mercedes junior, and his strong showing alongside Bottas in Bahrain last year has only increased transfer gossip.

For now, Bottas is staying focused but admits he doesn’t know if he’ll be a Mercedes driver in 2022.

“It’s still early days – I haven’t thought about next year,” he said. “I’m focused on the here and now. I have no idea and at the moment, I don’t care.”

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