Ralf Schumacher believes that Valtteri Bottas' time at Mercedes is now coming to a close, especially after his first-lap crash at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
There has been speculation over the Finn's future for several months, with the Silver Arrows still not having announced whether he will remain at the team in 2022 or if he will lose his seat to George Russell. Whilst the news has not come yet, Schumacher thinks that Bottas already knows he is on his way out.
"I believe that for him the Mercedes chapter is over and I can imagine that he is currently negotiating with Williams or Alfa [Romeo]," Schumacher told Sky Sports.
"Such a fatal mistake [at Hungary] doesn't help at all - and he knows that."
Bottas caused chaotic scenes at Turn 1 during the opening lap of the Hungarian Grand Prix. In the damp conditions, the Mercedes driver made a poor getaway and then misjudged his braking point, causing him to drive into the back of Lando Norris in the McLaren. As a result the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez were then hit. The incident led to Bottas, Norris and Perez retiring, whilst Verstappen continued but struggled due to the extensive damage to his car.
Following the race Bottas was handed a five-place grid penalty to be taken at the next race in Belgium. Given that the crash heavily impacted Red Bull, Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes inadvertently benefited in terms of the World Championship standings.
However, Schumacher has strongly ruled out any baseless suggestions that Bottas may have acted on purpose.
"I completely rule out that Bottas could have caused the crash on purpose," the former Formula 1 driver said. "He is currently fighting for a seat in Formula 1 and was totally down himself."
Schumacher also added: "It doesn't help Bottas at all if Lewis Hamilton becomes World Champion again. Besides, you can't calculate that you're pushing another car in front of you either.
"All those who suspect a conspiracy should think about that."