Valtteri Bottas pokes fun at Mercedes situation and gives answer to replacing Vettel

VALTTERI BOTTAS made a cheeky remark at the expense of his former team when asked if he would be replacing Sebastian Vettel.

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Valtteri Bottas aimed a cheeky jibe at his former team Mercedes after joking that he won’t be joining Aston Martin because he finally has a contract longer than one season. The Finn was famously handed one-year contracts for the entirety of his time with the Silver Arrows by Toto Wolff and chose to joke at his former team’s expense.

The Finn departed the eight-time constructors’ champions last season after five years with the team, where he played the role of deputy to Lewis Hamilton.

Bottas replaced Nico Rosberg for the 2017 season after the world champion’s shock decision to retire from the sport, days after his maiden title. And the former Williams driver proved to be a solid addition to the team, striking up a close relationship with Hamilton.

Despite their positive partnership, Mercedes team principal Wolff only ever handed one-year deals to Bottas, with one eye fixated on the driver market amid their reported interest in Max Verstappen and Lando Norris. That lack of job security with the German manufacturer played a key role in Bottas’ move to join Alfa Romeo, where he signed a multi-year contract.

And when asked about his future following the announcement that Sebastian Vettel was retiring at the end of the season, Bottas could not resist a thinly-veiled dig at his former employers, replying: “I never believed I could say this, but I have a contract! So I’m good.”

READ MORE: Sebastian Vettel confirms F1 retirement

Valtteri Bottas pokes fun at Mercedes situation and gives answer to replacing Vettel

Valtteri Bottas: The Finn used to drive for Mercedes (Image: Getty Images)

But after snubbing the chance to replace his former rival at Aston Martin next season, Bottas was keen to pay tribute to Vettel’s professionalism both on and off the track, insisting he respects the German’s racing craft.

“Always a really good driver to race against and race with,” he added. “With him, there’s always a certain respect and you can always count on him that he will race you hard but usually fair.

“I’ve really enjoyed the battles and overall, such a nice guy to get to know. He’s one of the drivers not afraid to speak up about things, which is really really cool. And he’s really known for the nice things, so [he has] my respect.”

The 32-year-old made a promising start to the season in 2022, picking up three top-six finishes in the first seven races and collecting 46 points overall. But the Swiss team, who were one of the teams that focused on their 2022 development more than their rivals, have been caught up in the development race and finished 15th and 16th at the French Grand Prix.

Valtteri Bottas pokes fun at Mercedes situation and gives answer to replacing Vettel

Toto Wolff: Valtteri Bottas was never offered a longer contract than one year (Image: Getty Images)

Bottas may have watched on with envy as his former team-mate Hamilton came home in second at Le Castellet, while his successor George Russell joined him on the podium in third.

But the chance to continue beyond 2022 with Alfa Romeo was clearly important to Bottas, who revealed he would have turned down a new one-year deal at Mercedes if it had been offered to him.

Speaking in November, he said: “Already, I had decided myself that if I can’t get two years or more with Mercedes, I’m definitely going to go for something new. And it was a simple question of can he [Wolff] offer me two years or more?

“And he said, no he can’t, at this moment. And then it was quite easy [to leave for Alfa Romeo].”

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