A report by The Daily Mail claimed that Bottas could be dropped and replaced by Mercedes junior George Russell before the end of the season.

After turning in several impressive displays for Williams this year, Russell is hoping to land a seat with the reigning world champions for 2022 with both his and Bottas’ contracts due to expire at the end of the season.

But following a difficult start to the 2021 F1 season that has seen Bottas already drop 37 points behind teammate Lewis Hamilton in the championship after just three races, it has been suggested that the Finn could be relieved of his duties early.

Speaking in the drivers' press conference ahead of this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix, Bottas insisted he will not be replaced and even took a swipe at Red Bull for how it handles its drivers.

“I know that I’m not going to be replaced in the middle of the season,” said Bottas. “As a team, we don’t do that.

“I have a contract for this year and I believe there’s only one team that does that kind of thing in F1 and we’re not that.

“So [there’s] no pressure from my side. I know how things are and there’s always bullshit around. That’s part of the sport.”

Asked if he thinks he will still be at Mercedes next year, Bottas replied: "I don’t know it at this point, it’s early days – I haven’t thought about next year, really.

"As I said earlier, my full focus is on this year and now, because that’s all that matters and normally that will bring a good future. I’ve no idea and at the moment I don’t care I just want to focus on this year and putting every single thought and every bit of energy I have into that."

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said he was confident Bottas would rediscover his best form soon after bouncing back from a disastrous race in Imola to take pole and a third-place finish in Portugal.

"He's put it on pole, and had a very solid race, he led," Wolff said.

"It's clear when you are in the front and just kicking a hole in the air, and the car behind you has DRS, that's very difficult.

"At that moment, Lewis opened up a bit of a gap, and was gone. But he controlled Max well.

"We lost the undercut, that was unfortunate, and then we let him down with the engine, that went into a safety mode.

"So all in all, I think like many times, it could have worked for Valtteri. We were pushing hard and continue to support him, and next time we'll see what he's capable of doing in Barcelona."

 

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