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Valtteri Bottas

Bottas plots F1 future: 'If it's possible that would be amazing'

In an exclusive interview with RacingNews365, Valtteri Bottas can see current team Stake starting to change as Audi's arrival beckons.

Bottas Aus Thursday
Interview
To news overview © XPBimages

Valtteri Bottas has conceded to witnessing a change inside the Stake F1 team ahead of Audi's looming F1 takeover.

In late 2022, after Audi verified its plans to enter F1 for the 2026 season, the German manufacturer then officially confirmed its acquisition of Sauber a few weeks ago.

For this year and next, the organisation is operating as Stake but with one eye naturally on the 2026 campaign when Audi enters F1 for the first time, enticed to the motorsport series by new power unit regulations.

Over the past 18 months, changes have slowly taken place behind the scenes, which are now starting to ramp up the closer we get to 2026, with Bottas recognising that staff are increasingly looking to prove themselves.

Ahead of the team becoming a factory outfit, Bottas said: "For sure, the mentality is important. It's not easy to make changes when you've had a few difficult seasons. What we need now are some really good results. That would boost the atmosphere.

"But from what I have seen with Audi committing for the long term is that people are realising 'Okay, I want to be part of that, so I want to show that I'm good'.

"Whether that's the people at the factory, the race team, I've seen a bit of a difference in that. They need to prove they deserve to be here as well."

Bottas has also witnessed the team "growing step by step", noticeably with key changes made in the leadership and technical departments last year, and is fully expecting more to be made as the clock counts down, and with Audi indicating it "wants to do well" from the word go.

The Finn further appreciates he has his own point to prove if he is not only to continue next season, bearing in mind he is out of contract at the end of the year, but also secure a seat with Audi.

Bottas the motivator

Since a positive start to his time with the Swiss-based team, then known as Alfa Romeo before its transition this year to Stake, the results and points have dried up.

Bottas scored points in seven of the first nine grands prix in 2022 following the advent of new aerodynamic regulations that year. Since then, he has only finished in the top 10 on a further six occasions in 38 races.

Looking to the future, Bottas said: "For me, yeah, on my list that [joining Audi] is number one, obviously, and if that were possible, it would be amazing.

"It is exciting because it is a manufacturer that has always been good in any motorsport, so it would be quite interesting for me, and I can put my experience to use when the cars change for '26."

For now, Bottas concedes the start to this season has been "difficult...much more difficult than we had aimed for", with the 34-year-old finishing 19th, 17th and 14th in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Australia respectively.

The team has also been undermined by its pit-stop problems, yet Bottas can see hope on the horizon as upgrades are regularly being introduced. A new front wing was on the car in Australia, whilst a new floor is expected for next weekend's race in Japan.

Bottas is adamant that "it is very close" in the congested mid-to-back-of-the-grid field. He added: "My hopes are still much higher than what we've seen so far."

He is aware, though, of the role he has to play to ensure Stake hauls itself out of the mire in which it finds itself, and after failing to score a point so far.

"I feel like my role nowadays is more than just to drive the car," said Bottas. "It's also trying to keep up the team spirit and motivate people when they start to feel a bit down, and almost like...not giving up, but not giving 100 per cent anymore.

"So I think that needs to be my role as well, and if I start to show signs of frustration, that's going to expand, so I need to stay up there, motivated and always keep giving everything I have."

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