FEBRUARY 7, 2024

Bottas not ruling out shock Mercedes return

Valtteri Bottas' is not ruling out a shock return to Mercedes to replace his Ferrari-bound former teammate Lewis Hamilton in 2025.

Valtteri Bottas, Abu Dhabi GP 2023
© Alfa Romeo

The Finn, whose contract at Sauber is coming to its end, is tipped to be replaced as the Swiss team prepares for its Audi future in 2026 - with names including Carlos Sainz and German Nico Hulkenberg already linked.

34-year-old Bottas, however, insisted this week that his priority and biggest commitment is the Audi project, which is my target.

But he has already dropped a couple of hints about wanting to return to Brackley - first by posting on social media a photo of himself sitting next to his phone when the Hamilton-to-Ferrari news broke.

And after that, he posted another hint on social media - a photo with the location tagged as Brackley, where Mercedes is based.

It's no lie, Bottas laughed. I was in Brackley the day before. Not at Mercedes but I was there, doing some other stuff.

Rumours suggest a much more likely replacement for Hamilton is in fact the teenager Kimi Antonelli, who is already under Toto Wolff's wing for the future.

But 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve insisted to La Gazzetta dello Sport: Mercedes cannot sign another young driver to be next to (George) Russell.

So with Wolff insisting that Russell, 25, is capable of being a team leader, Bottas might be seen as a safe choice to return to the 'other' seat.

We haven't spoken on the phone yet with Toto, Bottas insists. "Would I go back? Yeah.

If that wouldn't happen then there's no team I wouldn't go to, let's say, the Finn, who won all ten of his career grand prix wins at Mercedes, added.

But I know my priorities and I've got my list. But as far as I know, no burnt bridges.