Bottas hits out at "bullshit" mid-season dropping suggestion

Valtteri Bottas hit back at a suggestion Mercedes could replace him midway through the 2021 Formula 1 season, calling it "bullshit" and saying "only one team does that".

Bottas hits out at "bullshit" mid-season dropping suggestion

Bottas has failed to beat Lewis Hamilton in any of the first three races of the season, leaving him 37 points behind his Mercedes teammate in the standings.

The Finn's current contract expires at the end of the season, with his future being a regular talking point, particularly amid the rise of Mercedes junior George Russell and his stand-in performance for the team last year in Sakhir.

But Bottas hit back at a recent report in the UK press suggesting he could be replaced mid-season, saying that only one team takes such action in a subtle dig at Red Bull, which has made mid-season driver changes twice in recent years.

"I know that I am not going to be replaced in the middle of the season," Bottas said. "As a team we do not do that. I have a contract for this year, and I think there is only one team that does that kind of thing in F1 and we are not that.

"So no pressure from my side, as I know how things are. There is always bullshit around but that is part of the sport."

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Bottas has helped Mercedes win the constructors' championship in each of his four seasons with the team to date, and finished as runner-up in the standings the past two years.

Mercedes finds itself facing a sterner test in the teams' title race in 2021 after being caught up by Red Bull for outright performance, with both sides anticipating a season-long battle.

Asked if the close battle between the two teams would give him the opportunity to show his value to Mercedes, Bottas agreed that it could help.

"I think if we were a clear step ahead and the gap between the drivers could be big, you could still do good results," Bottas said. "But this year obviously. it is really clear, if you are lacking a bit of pace you can easily drop one or two places.

"I think that is how it should be. So if I aim to do my job as well as I can, hopefully it would be very visible and the talking will stop pretty quickly. So I agree that it is a good thing."

Bottas finished third in both Bahrain and Portugal, but failed to finish at Imola after a crash with Williams driver Russell while fighting over ninth place.

Despite the points gap to Hamilton already opening up, Bottas remained relaxed about his chances of taking the fight to his teammate in the title race.

"There are still 20 races to go which is a huge amount of points, and I am definitely not giving up on the goal for this year," Bottas said.

"I believe that hard work pays off, so I will keep working hard and keep believing. I know that the results will come and it will pay off."

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