Bottas: 'No risk' contract renewals for Verstappen & Leclerc unsurprising

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Valtteri Bottas says the early contract renewals for Charles Leclerc at Ferrari and Max Verstappen at Red Bull are not surprising.

In the case of Leclerc, the Monegasque was already believed to be signed at the Scuderia until the end of 2022 but just before Christmas, added another two years onto that deal.

As for Verstappen, his future at Red Bull seemed much less certain until he caught many unaware by signing on to stay at the Anglo-Austrian squad until 2023.

That means, right now, the only top team without at least one seat filled next year is Mercedes, though Lewis Hamilton is thought to be close to a new two-year extension.

And with the German manufacturer likely in the market to replace Bottas, the Finn himself thinks those quick moves were essentially safety nets.

“Everything is a little open after this year, so maybe they wanted at least one driver to be clear. Then, you can’t be too surprised,” he told Finland's Ilta Sanomat.

“Both (Leclerc and Verstappen) are young and have already shown their skills. The teams know there is no risk in keeping them. Why not? It’s a good thing that can stabilise things in the driver market."

With Verstappen signed at Red Bull, it now means Bottas' main competition may come from George Russell unless there's a dramatic move from a driver like Daniel Ricciardo.

However, the 30-year-old says his relationship with Hamilton is a big factor in his favour.

“If there was (tension), then it was very little," he said of last year.

"We were able to work together and we’ve never been so close together. We race really hard against each other, but we’ve never had any big problems.

"It’s healthy that you are not racing with your best friend and the team is pretty careful that the chemistry works between the drivers,” he added.