Williams drive Valtteri Bottas says his car selection for next year and beyond is vitally important for his long term future in the sport.
Williams are believed to be keen to retain the flying Finn, but rumours of interest from Renault refuse to go away. When asked in Singapore if he knew where his future lies, Bottas said:
“I don’t, but it’s interesting. I feel positive about things and things are definitely developing. One thing is for sure, I know I am going to be racing, but which team is not sure yet.
“It’s a fact that I am going to have new teammate whatever happens, but I can’t say much more than that really. I’m pretty pleased with how things are moving forward.”
Will the lure of a works drive with Renault be too good to turn down? Current team mate Felipe Massa has already announced that he is retiring from Formula One, with young F3 charger Lance Stroll expected to get the Brazilians seat ahead of Alex Lynn. Staying with the Grove team is still a reality for Valtteri.
“I think we’ve had some great moments with Williams together and I think we have more we can achieve together. We definitely want more and we want to win races together, so yes it would be nice. But of course you need to be aware of opportunities and think about your career in the long term, because I still have a lot of time in Formula One even though there are now a lot of younger drivers than me.
“I still feel that I am only going to get better and I still have ten years in front of me if everything goes well. It’s all playing for the long-term plan and I need to win races and win championships and for that you need to be with the right team. Having looked at what opportunities there are, then definitely one option is to stay with Williams.”
If Bottas does stay on with Williams, it will be his fifth season as a race driver with the team. After being linked with Ferrari previously, it is easy to understand the dilemma over his next contract.
Top teams Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren all have their drivers locked in for 2017. Mercedes and Red Bull also have their drivers signed and sealed for 2018 too.
The Ferrari link could be re-ignited again next year, if the team fail to renew the contract of fellow countryman Kimi Raikkonen. The 27-year-old Bottas still dreams of a top team drive in the future.
“At the top at least for next year it seems quite closed, but who knows what is going to happen next year and what kind of places there are going to be or the year after next? You can’t just predict those things and how they are going to go, so for me personally it is going to be massively important every race and especially wherever I will be racing next year will also be important for my future.
“It’s Formula One and I wish I had a crystal ball to see what is going to happen, but you just have to keep pushing to get the good results.”
Clearest hint then could be for one year deal for 17 with Williams, or gamble on the long term project of Renault being able to offer a championship winning car at some point.