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Bottas baffled and surprised by 'sudden' team changes

A new race engineer for Valtteri Bottas and a new driver for Stake has caught the Finn off guard.

Bottas Bahrain 2024
To news overview © XPBimages

Valtteri Bottas has been left baffled by a major change to his 'backroom' line-up at Stake and "surprised" by the speed of a decision to bring in a new driver for next season.

As part of wider changes within the team, Bottas goes into this weekend's Miami Grand Prix with a new race engineer, with Alex Chan replaced by Steve Petrik.

The team has offered no specific reason as to why it has opted to make the switch, particularly going into another sprint weekend when there is greater pressure considering the volume of track time involved.

Asked personally as to what he felt was the reason behind the change, he replied: "I think that's more a question for the team.

"Yeah, it was quite a sudden change. Obviously, it's a sprint weekend, so working with a fresh guy will be not easy, but I'm obviously trying to make the most out of it. He's getting a lot of support. But yeah, it's quite a sudden change."

As to whether the swap had his blessing, he said: "It's part of the reconstruction for the team. There are some people leaving, some people joining. Obviously, many of those decisions, they are not in my hands. I don't do those decisions."

Bottas in talks with 'multiple teams'

Bottas' future with the team, however, remains in limbo, with only a 50-50 chance he will be retained following the appointment of Nico Hulkenberg.

The German will join Stake for next season, albeit with the obvious brief of integrating him into the team before it evolves into Audi for 2026 when the manufacturing giant makes its F1 debut after finally being attracted into the sport by new engine regulations.

The move for Hulkenberg clearly caught Bottas off-guard. "Of course, the timing is quite early and a little bit surprising," he said. "But the driver market is starting to move."

Appreciating why Audi has opted to sign Hulkenberg, he added: "It makes sense. He's German, and Audi has made it pretty clear that they want a German driver, so it's all good. Let's see what happens next."

As to where he will be next season, he is honest enough to concede he does not know, although he maintains he is "speaking to multiple teams.

"Some talks have advanced more than the others, so we'll see."

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