It hasn’t been the easiest of starts to the 2021 Formula 1 season for Valtteri Bottas. He sits P4 in the standings, 37 points adrift of championship leader and teammate Lewis Hamilton.
A rumour from a British website suggested the Finn could be replaced by George Russell during the season. Bottas says that is bullshit and aimed a dig at Red Bull Racing for their hiring and firing during the season.
"I know that I am not going to be replaced in the middle of the season," Bottas said.
"As a team we do not do that. I have a contract for this year, and I think there is only one team that does that kind of thing in F1 and we are not that.
"So no pressure from my side, as I know how things are. There is always bullshit around but that is part of the sport."
With Red Bull pushing Mercedes very hard so far in 2021 and the two teams looking evenly matched, the 31-year-old hopes he can show his worth to his current employers by beating Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez on a consistent basis.
"I think if we were a clear step ahead and the gap between the drivers could be big, you could still do good results," Bottas said.
"But this year obviously, it is really clear: if you are lacking a bit of pace you can easily drop one or two places.
"I think that is how it should be. So if I aim to do my job as well as I can, hopefully it would be very visible and the talking will stop pretty quickly. So I agree that it is a good thing."
On the areas where he can improve, Bottas is happy with his speed after tough qualifying sessions in Bahrain and Imola, but admitted he’s needed to analyse things following a tricky opening stint in the race at Portimao last weekend, where he was overtaken by teammate Lewis Hamilton for the lead and pressured throughout the stint by Max Verstappen.
"The first couple of races, the main issue was the qualifying," said the Finn.
"In Portugal, I got the qualifying right. In the race, the main thing for me was the first stint. I was lacking a bit of pace [on mediums] and that’s something I’ve been trying to focus on and trying to understand.
"Otherwise the performance [and] speed is there. I’ll keep working hard and hard work will pay off."