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Bottas: Sauber F1 will become “more corporate” under Audi

Valtteri Bottas concedes that it’s inevitable that the Sauber Formula 1 team will become “more corporate” after it switches to full Audi identity in 2026.

The new Audi Sport F1 concept car

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

After leaving Mercedes at the end of 2021, Bottas has been enjoying the relaxed atmosphere at what is currently the Alfa Romeo team.

Last weekend, during the summer break, Bottas competed in a cycling event in Colorado dressed as Simpson's character Duff Man - for which he won the best costume award, winning his weight in beer and subsequently donating it to spectators and competitors.

The Finn admits that if he stays on to drive for Audi he will have a ”second thought” about documenting his off-track activities on social media, but he insists that he won’t fundamentally change as a person.

“No doubt it will get more corporate with a big brand coming in,” Bottas said ahead of the Dutch Grand Prix when asked about a potential change of environment at Sauber

“But if that brings results, then I don't mind, just change a bit of the team culture and the free atmosphere for a more competitive part.

“I don't feel like I need to change myself. I am who I am. And I want to be who I am always. Of course with let's say a bigger company some things that I share in social media, I might have to do a second thought on things, but that's okay.

"As long as I can still have my fun, which I believe is good for me. That's the main thing.”

Bottas, who scored all of his 10 grand prix victories so far at Mercedes between 2017 and 2021, insists that his more relaxed image is not just down to the environment at the midfield Sauber team.

"I think it's a combination of a few things,” he said. “For sure I would never imagine doing stuff like that for example in my rookie year. People would be like, well what's that?

“But I think once you've been around a bit more, you get comfortable with things. I just don't take social media seriously anymore. I'm more than happy to make fun out of myself, and do that kind of stuff.

“And people love it, they can kind of relate, he's just a normal guy who has a sense of humour. It's fun to share stuff like that. There are many things affecting it for sure, team environment, bit of stability, everything.”

He added: “Obviously when you change the team, the whole environment changes, it's new people, it's a different culture also from the different country the team is from.

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C43 on the grid

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C43 on the grid

Photo by: Alfa Romeo

“For sure there's always extra pressure when you're fighting for the world titles. No doubt that makes an effect. Obviously, it's a smaller team as well than where I was before. There are certain elements like that. But also from my side I've grown so much from the past."

Bottas says his off-track activities are good for him in keeping him "fresh mentally" and avoiding his racing life becoming "a bit of a grind".

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"For me, when I come to races, I'm always fresh mentally, and I'm always really keen to get back into it,” he said.

“So I think if your life is 24/7 F1, nothing else, then it becomes a bit of a grind.

“But I feel at least for me, it works that once I allow myself to kind of disconnect for some time, and when I come back again I feel like I have more battery reserves.

“I feel like that's a more sustainable way of extending your career, that you didn't really need to learn to disconnect."

"I think on track, I've never changed, when I work with a team, then I properly work. And obviously getting here now it's time to be serious, and a bit less playing around.

“That side of things has never really changed. I've always taken driving and working with a team seriously. And now it's time to perform."

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