VALTTERI BOTTAS' STANCE ON REJOINING MERCEDES AFTER TALKS WITH TOTO WOLFF

Valtteri Bottas said he's "talked about everything" with Toto Wolff - but ruled out a return to his old Mercedes team.

Bottas is one of several high-profile Formula 1 stars with an uncertain future. His current contract with Sauber ends this year and Audi, who will fully take over the team from 2026, are looking elsewhere when it comes to their driver plans.

It means the Finn will most likely need a new home if he is to be on the grid next year. Like many others, he has been holding conversations with teams up and down the paddock and is in the fortunate position of having a previous relationship with two of the teams who haven't yet decided their line-ups.

One of them is Mercedes, who need a new partner for George Russell thanks to Lewis Hamilton's decision to leave for Ferrari. The current front runner is Andrea Kimi Antonelli, the Italian teenager who has been fast-tracked into Formula 2 this year owing to his remarkable winning record in lower categories.

It remains to be seen whether they will promote him straight to the Mercedes team or place him with a customer outfit for a year to gain experience first. If they decide on the latter, they will need someone to fill the spot for 12 months, perhaps longer, until the 17-year-old is deemed ready.

Having won 10 races for the Silver Arrows during a five-year spell with the team in the past, Bottas would be an ideal candidate. But he told Mirror Sport that such a scenario would not appeal to him. "Filling a place for one year, I don't think that is what I want or need at the moment," he said, at an event for Zero Petroleum.

"For next year, I want something multi-year with a clear plan for the years ahead and work together for that time. I think that's what I need, a good challenge and a clear plan. If I just do one year, then you're back to square one again and looking at what's next. I'm good friends with Toto so, of course, we've talked about everything."

Instead, Bottas looks to be favourite to re-sign with another one of his former teams, Williams. Carlos Sainz was on the verge of putting pen to paper to race alongside Alex Albon but his repeated delays over a decision look to have alienated James Vowles, who worked closely with Bottas during his time at Mercedes.

It is understandable that he wants more security, having spoken in the past about how much better he felt to get a three-year deal with Sauber after five consecutive 12-month contracts at Mercedes. "It would be nice to have security," he said.

"But I always knew when I signed everything that, in three years, it will be the same thing again. It's kind of exciting as well, in the end, if there is a change. I'm fine with the situation - it's been interesting - but I want to get it sorted soon. Then I'll be even happier again."

2024-07-10T07:10:02Z dg43tfdfdgfd