Valtteri Bottas is predicting plenty of movement on the Formula 1 “drivers’ market” after revealing his “surprise” about former team-mate Lewis Hamilton’s move to Ferrari.
Around half of the grid are out of contract at the end of the current campaign, which could spark major changes to team line-ups. Bottas is eyeing up a new deal at Sauber, which is ramping up engagements with Audi ahead of it becoming the manufacturer’s F1 works team from 2026.
Hamilton built up a good friendship with Bottas at Mercedes, as the pair contributed to five constructors championship titles. Although his former colleague has long been linked with Ferrari, Bottas is still shocked it has come to fruition.
“I was surprised. I never thought it would happen, I thought in my mind he would stay at Mercedes, but that’s Formula One,” Bottas said at Sauber’s 2024 car launch.
“Things happen and I think that it’s good for him because he’s obviously made the decision and it’s a fresh, new start. It’s a big move in F1 which is going to create some movement, as well on the drivers’ market for sure.”
Bottas, who is 34, says he has drawn up a “priority list” of teams he would like to join if he does not get his wish to stay with the Audi project, but believes he has not “burned bridges” at Mercedes if they decide to bring him back as George Russell’s team-mate.
Hamilton holds the joint-record for drivers’ world titles with Ferrari legend Michael Schumacher on seven, but he is targeting an eighth before retiring. Bottas believes he will easily adjust to life at Ferrari and will not feel the pressure.
“He’s got so much experience of the sport,” he said. “He’s dealt with many different people in the sport, I think there’s no problem on that.
“I’m sure its going to be quite an exciting project for him to try and get to the top together with Ferrari.
“If anyone can do it, he can do it – I think after a few races already he’ll be well settled in and then straight on from there.”
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