Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas says the longer wait for his F1 contract renewal does cause some distraction while competing in the season.

Due to the negotiations that go on during contract signing, this part of an F1 driver’s job can often take up excessive amounts of time and focus. Moreover, these contract talks take place in the latter half of the season – just as the championship starts heating up.

Last year, Mercedes’ Bottas was subject to elongated contract talks, which continued until August, and very much distracted him from his title bid, as the Finn admitted. However, as he waits for the 2020 season to start, he wants it to be sorted sooner.

The lack of racing due to COVID-19 pandemic makes it much more difficult for Bottas as well as Mercedes. “For sure, I learned, and the team also said they learned about how we handled our contract last year for 2020,” said the Finn.

“It was a bit too much unnecessary talk outside the team. Everything should have just been kept internal, I think it makes things easier, and for sure learned that earlier than when the decisions were made last year, it’s always better.

“If you have to drag it on for August, September, then it kind of builds up and becomes more of a distraction. If things are done a couple of months earlier, then it makes it a lot more simple, because all the speculation only ramps up as it delays.

“Hopefully we can do something before last year.” Bottas having said that – I think – the contract situation may hinder this time due to the pandemic. Moving forward, he also conversed about the effects that contractual stability have on a driver.

“It helps a lot to have a long contract,” noted Bottas. “For sure, if you know for many years ahead, and if you’re comfortable in the team, it’s only a win-win situation. If the team wants you long-term, if the driver is happy to be there, you know what is happening in the future, so you can only concentrate on the work.

“Also on the future and development of the car, but also things about the future, there’s no need for the team to hide anything from the driver. It’s always a good thing if it’s long-term, I believe. But it doesn’t always happen in F1, as I’ve seen.

“It’s a political sport and there’s lots of drivers trying to get seats, and many teams want to keep options open for many reasons, so that’s how it goes. I think it’s no secret that my contract ends at the end of 2020. For sure then naturally you want to start talking quite early on.

“We have a good relationship with Toto and everyone in the team, so when it’s time, we can talk about things openly. I’m sure we also both ways learned last year about how we did it and communicated etc, and for sure it can be done a bit smoother and with less things happening around, headlines etc.”

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The story was edited by Darshan Chokhani