Former Formula 1 driver David Coulthard believes that Mercedes have already informed Valtteri Bottas that his contract won’t be renewed for 2022.
The 13-time race winner, who drove for Williams, McLaren, and Red Bull between 1994 and 2008, thinks that Bottas may know that he is out of a drive with Mercedes next year.
The Finn’s contract does come to an end this season and Mercedes will be scratching their heads wondering on their driver pairing for 2022.
There are a number drivers waiting in the wings such as Mercedes junior driver George Russell. The current Williams driver put himself on the radar following a good performance at the Sakhir Grand Prix last year where he deputised for the Covid-hit Lewis Hamilton. He led for the first half of the race before pitstop issues saw him lose out.
Williams boss Jost Capito has downplayed such a move stating that it’s ‘too early’ to talk about Russell’s future.
However, Coulthard thinks that Bottas may have already been told that his services will no longer be required; something similar to what he experienced at McLaren back in the mid-2000’s.
“I wonder if Bottas might have already been told that his contract will not be renewed,” said Coulthard speaking to the On the Marbles podcast, as quoted by RacingNews365.com.
“When I left McLaren, I was told in June of the year before my contract expired. So I knew for a year and a half that they would rather have Juan Pablo Montoya in that car.”
Bottas made life difficult for teammate Lewis Hamilton at the Spanish Grand Prix. The Brit was on a different race strategy and closed right up to Bottas, but the 31-year-old didn’t let Hamilton by easily. After the race Bottas held firm stating that he’s ‘not here to let people by’.
Toto Wolff has, however, been a strong proponent for the Finnish driver and the nine-time race winner slammed recent rumours that he would be replaced calling them “bullshit”.
Bottas has had the pace on his teammate Hamilton at the Monaco Grand Prix this weekend, however. The Finn has been out-performed by his seven-time World Champion teammate all season, but starts four places ahead of him on the grid for Monaco.
This is vital at a track where overtaking is more difficult and Coulthard thinks that the Finn now has some fire in his belly to show what he’s made of.
“I had one and a half [years] at the time to find a new seat,” continued Coulthard. “I said to Ron Dennis ‘Thank you for your honesty and let’s get on with it.”
“I think I would have won the next race. Or maybe I crashed in the pit lane!”