Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has rubbished rumours that Valtteri Bottas will be dropped during the 2021 season. In the press conference, Bottas had already dismissed any suggestions of the same. The Daily Mail had reported that Bottas could lose his seat to George Russell midway through the season.
“Absolutely. Unless he gets flu and can’t drive, he’s going to be in that car.” Toto Wolff replied when asked if Valtteri Bottas would be in the car for the entire season. “I see no reason to change. It’s these guys over there [pointing towards Red Bull’s motorhome] that like to play musical chairs, so no change expected.”
Bottas had joined Mercedes after the unexpected retirement of Nico Rosberg. Since joining the team, he has helped them maintain their run of consecutive Constructor Championship wins partnering Hamilton. He has failed to mount a battle for the title in the last four years. He has started the 2021 season on the backfoot casting doubts about his future at Mercedes.
“I know that I’m not going to be replaced in the middle of the season,” Bottas said. “As a team, we don’t do that. I have a contract for this year and I think there’s only one team that does that kind of thing in F1.”
Bottas was referring to their title rivals Red Bull. They are wihout an engine manufacturer after Honda decided not to extend their contract in Formula 1. Red Bull have begun recruitment for their new engine programme. A number of these recruitments have been done from McLaren with Wolff saying that Red Bull had approached 100 of their employees.
“It’s pretty obvious: if you want to set up an engine factory there is only one [already in the UK] and that’s us,” said Wolff. “We have 900 or so employees there and if you are fishing out 15 of these or so, that’s pretty normal. They went mainly after manufacturing staff so it’s not really performance.”