Bottas’ future hanging by a threat after harsh critique of Sauber failures

In a rare and alarming development, Valtteri Bottas has publicly aired his grievances with Sauber, a team increasingly integrated into the Audi brand. His criticisms come at a time when speculation is mounting that he may not be included in the team’s future roster as it transitions to a works Audi setup by 2026.

Sauber, facing the upcoming Suzuka race, has admitted its inability to resolve the technical glitches plaguing their pitstops throughout the 2024 season for now, even after implementing “mitigation measures” in Australia. Despite these efforts, the team’s pitstop issues persisted, leading to a penalty of 5000 euros due to a mishap involving a wheel nut.

Alessandro Alunni Bravi, representing the team in the absence of the mainly factory-bound CEO Andreas Seidl, stated, “Mitigation measures” were introduced, hoping to alleviate the issues. He further explained, “We have redesigned all the components from the hub, nuts, everything,” but cautioned that “of course this takes time for the production.”

The team, which has adopted the commercial monikers ‘Kick’ and ‘Stake’ for this season, is also grappling with the underperformance of its new neon green car. Roger Benoit, a seasoned F1 journalist with intimate knowledge of Sauber, chose not to delve into the team’s morale. Instead, he remarked, “There is no need to report on the mood in the team,” noting, “The sad and stony faces say it all.”

Among those displaying a “stony face” is the usually upbeat and fan-favorite Finn, Bottas. Despite having a victorious background with Mercedes, he now finds himself arguably overshadowed by his teammate, Guanyu Zhou. Post-race in Melbourne, Bottas did not mince words about the team’s shortcomings, emphasizing, “We could have scored points today,” but lamented, “But if we can’t fix the pitstops, it doesn’t matter how the car is or how well you drive. And apparently it still hasn’t been fixed.”

For Bottas, aged 34, the ongoing pitstop debacle is of more concern than the car’s lackluster performance. He stressed, “The pitstops are the most important thing that needs to be fixed.”

Looking ahead, Bottas has repeatedly expressed his “priority” to be considered in Sauber’s shift towards Audi, despite facing a challenging market position. The Finnish publication Iltalehti reflected on his circumstances, stating, “No matter how you look at the situation through blue and white glasses, Bottas’ stock is not currently high in the driver market.”

GMM

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