DECEMBER 14, 2016
Bottas could lose Mercedes opportunity says Salo
Mika Salo says it is very possible a golden opportunity for his fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas to step up to Mercedes might fall through.
Bottas is understood to be Mercedes' favourite to replace the retiring world champion Nico Rosberg for 2017.
But while managed by Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, the 26-year-old is firmly under contract to Williams, whose main sponsor Martini is also determined to hang onto him for marketing reasons.
Former F1 driver Salo says the situation reminds him of 1996, when at the end of the year Ferrari wanted him to be Michael Schumacher's teammate.
"Basically my situation then was the same as Valtteri's now," he told the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat. "Tyrrell exercised the option in our agreement and I couldn't get out of it."
However, 50-year-old Salo said he also sees similarities between Bottas' current situation and that of another Finn, Kimi Raikkonen, in 2001.
Then, McLaren and Mercedes colluded to pay an enormous buy-out fee to secure Raikkonen's switch from Sauber.
"Mercedes paid for the entire contract and Sauber got a whole lot of money including a row of transporter trucks," Salo recalled.