Valtteri Bottas admits he is already beginning to think about an Audi-powered future in Formula 1.
Currently, the former Mercedes driver is looking ahead to his second consecutive year with Alfa Romeo – and he says he would like to have contract extension talks early in 2023.
It is believed the 33-year-old Finn’s deal also includes 2024 – when Swiss-based Sauber’s naming deal with Alfa Romeo ends.
The team – currently powered by Ferrari – is already 25 percent owned by Audi, as the VW-owned carmaker reportedly intends to ramp up that shareholding to 75pc by 2026 and the new engine regulations.
Bottas told Iltalehti newspaper that he can imagine driving an Audi F1 car in the future.
“The feeling I have is that I learn something every year. I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t still be driving then,” he said.
“We are now focusing on this season, but we know that more success is coming in the future. Audi is a big deal but everyone still wants to respect Alfa Romeo.
“But I can plan ahead with the team. In the simulator, we are already talking about next year’s car and what we need from it. It’s new for me that I can be so involved in the long term.”
The first step for Sauber, though, is 2023 – and the new car appears notably different compared to last year’s.
“It’s a cool looking livery and it’s nice to see see a little difference to last year’s car physically,” said Bottas.
“The balance we had especially in fast corners last year was restless, and at least based on the numbers it is much more stable and calm now.
“That’s what I’ve tried to push, because it opens up development possibilities. In my previous team, there were some mechanical things in the suspension for example and I’ve brought them here. That’s part of the role I can play now.”
As for whether he will still be playing that role at Audi, Bottas isn’t sure.
“Everyone has a good feeling about it,” he insisted. “The future of the team is now secure, so it’s a stable situation and everything is well organised.”