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Ricciardo, Magnussen and Bottas on F1 contracts mentality

Ricciardo: Tough contract negotiations are mentally 'taxing'

25 June at 10:00
Last update 25 June at 10:09
  • Sophia Crothall

Contract negotiations appeared to start early this season, with Lewis Hamilton announcing his move for 2025 ahead of the 2024 season even starting. At the moment, many teams are likely debating between new talent, and experienced drivers. In Spain, Daniel Ricciardo, Kevin Magnussen and Valtteri Bottas all reflected on how tough it is at the moment with contract negotiations. 

For Ricciardo, Magnussen and Bottas, no final decision has been made as of yet over their contracts for next season. All three have their current contracts with their teams expiring at the end of the year. In Spain, the three unanimously agreed that waiting for a decision to be made over your future, or having to make that decision yourself is mentally difficult. "There's not really just one thing behind the decision. There are so many. It can be very taxing," Ricciardo explained. "Of course, you need to give it the time required because it's your future, and it's your career and obviously something you work very hard for. But also, at some point, you just want to make the decision and move on. It's tough, because you can't take it lightly, so it's one of those ones. I guess we all go through it. We've all been through it in some way, shape or form. It means a lot to us, and that's why we we obviously put so much weight on it." 

It was not long ago that Ricciardo was left in the same position. After being released from his contract with McLaren a year early, the Australian had no seat for 2023. He became the third driver at Red Bull Racing, until he was sent to the then AlphaTauri (now Visa Cash App RB) to replace a struggling Nyck de Vries. This season, there has been much contention over whether Ricciardo can hold onto his seat at the team, with rumours circling that Liam Lawson could take the seat alongside Yuki Tsunoda. Moreover, Magnussen was also not in a too disimilar position a few years ago, when he was released from his contract with Haas at the end of 2020, and then brought back by the team two years later. 

Why are contract negotiations so tough?

This year, contract negotiations have begun earlier than expected for the drivers. With Hamilton's announcement at the start of February that he would leaving Mercedes for Ferrari in 2025, it triggered other teams to begin thinking about their driver line up. Whilst the top three Constructors' teams, Red Bull, Ferrari, and McLaren, have their confirmed line up, others are yet to announce theirs. For Magnussen, although the uncertainty is what makes waiting so tough, he remains more relaxed than he has done in previous years. "I think not knowing your future is, of course, not a comfortable situation. I think this job has a big effect on your life in general, and not only you as a driver, but your whole family, and your whole year is dictated by being in Formula 1 when you're driving, so I think that's the biggest thing for me is not knowing how life looks in half a year's time or so," he said.

"When I was younger, I had a lot of fear of losing this, which I don't think you need to have. I think it's a very big privilege. I love driving these cars. I love racing in Formula 1. But I think I'm much more relaxed about things now than I was in the past. We're very early in the year, so in that way, it’s a different situation than I've had before. I think this all the decisions will be made likely in in the next week or so. So it's pretty early, but we'll see how it all ends up." For Bottas, only one seat remains at Sauber, after they announced the signing of Nico Hulkenberg from Haas. Nevertheless, the Finn is also not too concerned just yet: "It's not that late in the season. I think it gets more difficult if it gets beyond the August break and later into the season and still having that unknown. I think that's more more difficult," he explained. "Over the years, you learn to deal with it yourself. You learn to still find that focus for the weekends and then that right energy. It's not my first rodeo either, so, we'll be all ok," Bottas concluded.