SILVERSTONE, Great Britain -- Valtteri Bottas said he talked with other F1 teams before signing with Mercedes for 2021 but ultimately decided a one-year extension with the world champions was the best deal on offer.
Bottas started negotiations with Mercedes after the second race of the season, and his new contract was confirmed ahead of this weekend's Formula One 70th Anniversary Grand Prix. It will be Bottas' fifth one-year contract at Mercedes, and Lewis Hamilton is expected to sign a new multiyear deal to continue as his teammate next season.
But in an exclusive interview with ESPN, Bottas revealed he had been in talks with other teams earlier in the year when racing was on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, just in case Mercedes opted against offering him a new contract.
"Yes, I had talks with other teams, I can say that," Bottas said. "Even before we had started to race, there was quite a bit of movement in terms of teams and drivers.
"Yet the team made it very clear they are not going to sign anyone before we started racing because they still needed time to get back to racing, etc. From my side I thought, just in case, I wanted to look for other things in case Mercedes, for some reason, wouldn't take me.
"I don't want to go too much into detail how deep the discussions were, but I was looking around at what would be there in case."
Bottas replaced Nico Rosberg at Mercedes in 2017 but has never been offered more than a single-year contract by the world champions. As a result, he has faced speculation about his future each year -- something he has previously admitted was a distraction in title battles.
On why he accepted another one-year deal, Bottas said: "If there was a long-term contract offer, I would have gone for it, for sure. But we decided again with the team to go for that, and if that is everything they can offer, then I take it.
"For me, this year, even though Lewis is leading [the championship] with 30 points, there is still a chance to win the title, and next year I know that I will get the opportunity if I perform well. That's all that I need.
"Sometimes it's good to look short term and that's good for your long term. If I want to win the title, this is the team to be at, so if it's one year, I take it. It's normal already, so it's fine."
Asked whether it affected his chances to fight for the title when he is going up against a teammate whose future is secure, Bottas added: "It's really how you take it and up to you how you deal with it. It's becoming a bit of a norm for me, so you get used to it.
"Yes, it would have been nice to get a long-term contract, but it's the best I can get, so I take it. Of course, now I know for the next 10 or 11 months I don't have to think about it, so that's nice.
"I can really focus on racing, and then next year, yes, there will come a time when I have to think about it and you will have to again figure out your future. But that is at least 10 months away, so for now I don't need to think about it."