Ex-Ferrari manager fires Valtteri Bottas accusation

Valtteri Bottas will be 35 years old when his Sauber contract expires at the end of 2024.

Ex-Ferrari and Williams team manager Peter Windsor believes Valtteri Bottas has been “slacking off” slightly, with the Finn seemingly unable to have a completely solid weekend.

Since leaving Mercedes at the end of 2021, Bottas has shown some great pace at Alfa Romeo, although his performances haven’t been consistent.

With the exception of the start of the 2022 season, Bottas has often done well in either qualifying or a race during a Grand Prix weekend, but rarely both.

Whilst some of this could be down to his car, Windsor believes an aspect of it is because the Finnish driver has lost some of his “edge”.

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This was proven last weekend at the Dutch Grand Prix, where Bottas was shocking in qualifying – he could only salvage 19th – but good during the race, which he claimed 14th in.

It was the complete opposite at the Hungarian Grand Prix, where Bottas qualified an impressive seventh, but finished 12th.

He does still have another year on his contract, unlike Zhou Guanyu, so does have the security of knowing that he’ll be on the grid in 2024, regardless of his upcoming performances.

However, Windsor wonders whether Bottas believes that his days in F1 are coming to an end, with the expectations being that Audi won’t want the Finn as one of their drivers when their takeover of Sauber is complete.

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“I like Valtteri, good bloke, and he was very quick in the early days,” he said.

“He’s still pretty quick now, but he does seem to have difficulties stitching the whole weekend together.

“He’ll seem quick on a Friday and then it falls away in qualifying, or he has a decent qualifying and it falls away in the race, a little bit like that [on Sunday].

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“Is Valtteri slacking off as an F1 driver? I suspect he has a little bit. We’ve seen him on occasions this year looking pretty sharp and going well, not massively quicker than Zhou Guanyu, but looking good.

“But I think there is a little bit of loss of edge with Valtteri, which comes with the life he’s living now.

“I think, looking ahead into the future, he can see the Audi takeover if you like and the rebranding and the whole new technology, probably isn’t going to include Valtteri Bottas.

“It might in some sort of managerial or advisory role, probably not thinking of himself as a driver. And then he’s probably thinking, ‘Well, that’s my moment’.

“He’s not thinking, ‘I’ll back away’ at all, but I think when those thoughts start to come into your head, for example I can’t imagine Oscar Piastri or Liam Lawson are thinking, ‘When am I going to retire?’

“I think in Valtteri’s case possibly there is a little bit of that. But give him a good racing car, good set of tyres, free lap, he’ll be as quick as anybody – most people, anyway.”