Could Red Bull Racing swoop for Mercedes star?

The driver market roundabout may cause another shake-up for 2021

By Toby Lock
Tuesday, 26th May 2020, 12:31 pm
Updated Tuesday, 26th May 2020, 12:32 pm
Valtteri Bottas could hold the key for a second F1 driver shake-up
Valtteri Bottas could hold the key for a second F1 driver shake-up

The sudden and surprise move from Ferrari to part ways with Sebastian Vettel two weeks ago sent shockwaves through the F1 paddock, but another may come at Red Bull Racing and Mercedes.

Both title-contenders are yet to confirm their 2021 line-ups, though the Milton Keynes team have Max Verstappen locked into a contract until 2023, while six-time champion Lewis Hamilton is likely to remain at Brackley. However, Valtteri Bottas' contract with the Silver Arrows is set to expire at the end of the 2020 season, and Alex Albon - a hasty replacement midway through the 2019 season for Red Bull - is also out of contract.

Following Ferrari's announcement to split with Vettel at the end of the season, they moved quickly to sign McLaren's Carlos Sainz Jnr, who was in turn replaced by Daniel Ricciardo from Renault.

With Vettel still available for 2021, and the public perception of Mercedes-managed Williams driver George Russell on the up-and-up with his latest E-Sports victories, Bottas' seat has come under threat at Brackley.

While Albon was in his first season in F1 last season, Red Bull will be eager to put in an experienced second driver in their car to thrust the team back into title contention alongside Verstappen, and Bottas, who finished runner-up to Hamilton in the 2019 standings, could be a perfect fit at Tilbrook.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff though has admitted his tema will not begin contract negotiations until the 2020 season gets underway, appearing to say Bottas has to perform in order to keep his seat. But paddock rumours suggest members of Bottas' management team have already met with Red Bull boss Christian Horner about a potential 2021 ride which may force Mercedes' hand should he opt to lock down his future before it's too late.