Valtteri Bottas stated in a recent interview that he would be open to switching teams for the 2021 season, however his current preference is to stay with Mercedes. In an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, Bottas said: “There will be a lot of movement but if I could choose now what I would like, then obviously I would stay here. I believe in the work we do every day here and I have become a better driver, but at the same time I am open to other solutions.”
The 2021 F1 driver market is set to be a very interesting one, with a number of top guys all out of contract. There are a number of drivers that are already being linked with moves to new teams, such as Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, however it almost feels as though Bottas will be one of the guys that will have to find his place once the dust has settled sightly.
If Hamilton decides to leave Mercedes it could lead to a large shakeup in the sport, as Sebastian Vettel would likely be looking for a seat. Verstappen has already been linked with a move to Mercedes on a number of occasions, so there is a good chance that if Hamilton did leave, we would see the Silver Arrows look in that direction.
Bottas off to new pastures?
But where does that leave Bottas? It’s unlikely that he’ll get a chance at a top team that isn’t Mercedes, if they decided not to renew his contract he would have to begin looking further down the grid. I doubt Renault will be looking to replace Ricciardo, unless the Australian decides to leave the team due to a spot at Ferrari or Mercedes opening up.
Racing Point are pretty much locked down with their lineup through to the end of 2021 (well, Perez has a contract through 2021, Stroll just seems to have an infinite contract). There may be an opening with Alfa Romeo if Kimi Raikkonen decides to retire at the end of 2020, which could be a good fit for his fellow Finn. Bottas would provide the veteran presence that the team currently has with Kimi, as well as having recently driven for one of the top teams.
The only other team that may be a viable option, assuming that Williams are still way off the pace at this point, is Haas. It’s still bizarre that they have retained both of their drivers for yet another season, however if they have another rough year in 2020, it would be no surprise to see them look elsewhere. Again, Bottas would be a good fit for them.
However, all of this is still a ways off yet, we have just the small matter of the 2020 season to get underway before we can really start to get a concrete idea of how the driver market is going to shake out for 2021.