Drivers “positive” amidst team fears

In a week in which Toto Wolff admits that he is confident that Mercedes will remain in F1 beyond 2020, but stresses that it is not a given, and Renault‘s interim chief executive, Clotilde Delbos, admits that the manufacturing giant is examining all aspects of its business including its participation in F1, speculation over both teams futures, and that of Haas, continues.

However, speaking in Interlagos, Valtteri Bottas, Daniel Ricciardo and Romain Grosjean all insist that they are “positive” for the future.

“Well, if three of the teams leave, then I guess we’re going to play petanque or boules or bowls or whatever it’s called in Monaco,” joked Grosjean, who has been retained on a one-year deal by Haas.

“No, I honestly hope that in 2021… I think 2021 is a good step, good direction,” he continued, “and I’m hoping that the teams will stay and we’re more on the positive side, not thinking what about if they leave but can we get more teams joining Formula One.

“Let’s be positive and think that it’s actually going to attract more people.”

“I’m at the positive end of the spectrum,” added Ricciardo, whose £22m a year contract covers this year and 2020.

“I have faith that everyone will continue in good spirits and keep things going,” he added. “I won’t think about if not.

“I like singing,” he grinned, “but I’m not good enough to make it as a career so yeah, I’ll be struggling.”

“I’m on the positive side as well,” said Bottas, who is also on a one-year deal for 2020. “I feel the change is in the right direction, so I’m not too worried about the future of Formula One at the moment.

“Obviously we never know and you never know the case of individual teams but if something happens, then you always need to find something else but I’m pretty relaxed and pretty positive about the future.”

Meanwhile, teammate Lewis Hamilton, whose current contract ends next year, is hoping to remain with Mercedes but is unsure what Toto Wolff’s plans are, with speculation that the Austrian could replace Chase Carey at the helm of F1.

“I know that being stuck in any position for too long can also not always be a positive so I always want people to spread their wings and do what’s best for their careers,” the world champion told reporters. I don’t know what that is for him, only he will know.

“Naturally I don’t want him to leave,” he admitted, “particularly if I’m staying in the sport. It is important to me and I am waiting also to see where his head is at.

“I’ve obviously considered the next couple of years,” he added. “I know that I want to continue racing, I love what I’m doing. I see no reason for me to stop any time soon. It’s almost like I only just did this contract and I’ve already got to start talking about the potential of the next one.

“It’s another stressful moment where you have to… get into the ring and have a friendly yet intense conversation about terms and all those kind of things,” he sighed. “But I’m used to it and like to think I’m a relatively good negotiator.”