Bottas open to Mercedes return despite Audi ‘priority’

Stake Sauber driver Valtteri Bottas has refused to close the door on a return to Mercedes but has insisted his “priority” is helping his current team transition to the Audi works team.

Sauber has rebranded to Stake F1 for the upcoming season ahead of Audi’s entry from 2026, following an end to its title partnership with Alfa Romeo.

The launch of the C44 came days after the shock news that Lewis Hamilton would switch from Mercedes to Ferrari from next season onwards, with the seven-time World Champion bringing to an end a career-long association with the German marque.

Bottas spent five seasons alongside the Briton before being replaced by George Russell and addressing Hamilton’s decision, the Finn told select media including RacingNews365: “I never imagined it would happen but I am happy for him because it’s good for him.

“I think it is a great challenge, I am sure it is a great motivation for him to bring Ferrari to the top so it’s kind of cool.

“It will definitely create some movement for the future, which is good for the whole sport and for the drivers.”

‘I know my priorities’

Hamilton’s decision has left the F1 driver market surrounded by a flurry of rumours as to who will now replace him at Mercedes.

Bottas’ social media placed him near the factory when the news broke and asked whether he would consider a return to the Silver Arrows, he was non-committal.

“It’s no lie, I was in Brackley the day before – not at the Mercedes factory, but I was there doing some other stuff,” explained Bottas.

“No, we haven’t spoken on the phone yet with Toto. But if I would go back? Yeah… obviously my priority and biggest commitment is the Audi project, which is my target, but if that wouldn’t happen, there is no team that I wouldn’t go to, let’s say.

“But I know my priorities.”


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