Valtteri Bottas is keeping conspicuously quiet about rumbling speculation about his future as a works Audi driver in Formula 1.
After serving as Lewis Hamilton’s teammate at Mercedes on a series of one-year deals between 2017 and 2021, the Finn says he is enjoying the stark contrast of his role at Alfa Romeo.
“I can work here without feeling any negative pressure,” he said, referring to the Swiss outfit called Sauber that is currently known as Alfa Romeo.
Alfa Romeo, however, will end its largely symbolic collaboration with Sauber after 2023, revving up rumours that Audi intends to buy 75 percent of the Hinwil based team ahead of its Formula 1 entry in 2026.
Auto Bild asked Bottas, 33, at Monza whether Audi will be looking forward to tapping into his experience of racing at Mercedes through the Hamilton era.
“I can’t say anything about Audi,” Bottas laughed. “But it wouldn’t change anything for me personally.
“But yes, my experience with Mercedes is important. You not only learn what a gigantic apparatus is behind you, but also what mechanisms you need in order to be successful in the end.”
By playing second fiddle to Hamilton, however, Bottas said he had to deal with “a lot of pressure at Mercedes”.
“I only ever had a one-year contract so I never knew if I would be continuing or not. That sucked,” he admitted.
“Every driver deals with immense pressure in Formula 1 but even that has a limit that cannot be exceeded or the performance suffers.”
Now, Bottas says he not only has a multi-year deal, but the Sauber camp is pursuing a project that is “designed for several years”.
“That gives you the necessary security and also the necessary trust,” he said. “You notice that the things you suggest take effect because the team listened to you.
“I don’t want to use the term ‘number 1 driver’, but I feel the responsibility and the trust that is given to me here. My role is far more than just driving the car, and I didn’t have that feeling at Mercedes by a long shot.”
Some might even suggest that Bottas regrets ever agreeing to replace 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg at such short notice over five years ago.
“It’s a good question that I find very difficult to answer,” Bottas said. “I don’t know.
“All I know is that I don’t want to be anywhere else at the moment but here.”