The ex-Mercedes driver moved to Sauber for 2022 with a firm two-year contract until the team activated a clause to retain the Finn alongside stablemate Zhou Guanyu for this term.

Bottas has said that any subsequent renewal with Sauber will be indicative of him having secured an Audi seat, as the manufacturer completes a 100% buyout of the Swiss squad.

While there has been speculation that Sauber was lukewarm over retaining Bottas for 2024, he says tentative talks with Audi for its 2026 arrival are coming together.

“[I’m] slowly, slowly getting the ball rolling. But nothing fundamental yet,” he said.

“I think we need a few more [races this season] under our belt, and hopefully with a good few results, the ball will roll a bit more, but not much yet.”

Amid Lewis Hamilton’s 2025 switch to Ferrari and the uncertainty surrounding Max Verstappen’s future given the turmoil at the top of Red Bull, Bottas concedes there is a “danger” he could be outmanoeuvred in the driver market to end up without a seat.

“That’s why you need to try and be one step ahead,” he continued. “That’s what my management is working on in the background.

“I focus on the driving, and I’ve got people in the background, trying to read the market and work on different options if that will be needed.”

Valtteri Bottas, Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber

Valtteri Bottas, Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

The 10-time grand prix winner wants to return to fighting at the front, having ended 2021 third in the standings with Mercedes before winding up 10th and 15th in his two complete campaigns with Sauber (then competing as Alfa Romeo).

“I don’t really actually want to put any specific number on how many years I have [left], just because I don’t see the end coming yet,” he said.

“I still feel like I have lots to give and lots to achieve. Now my motivation is to get back closer to the top. I miss that feeling of fighting more towards the front end.

“Obviously, being part of Audi, that could be a great opportunity for me to do that. So of course, that’s interesting for me.”

Bottas says the confirmation of Audi’s buyout of Sauber, which dampens rumours that the marque was getting cold feet over its F1 entry, offers employees “security” and a “clear plan”.

Now contesting his 12th top-flight season, in trying to negotiate a seat, Bottas has touted the value of his experience.

He said: “Experience is important in the sport. Also, when there’s regulation changes, you need to be quite dynamic on the direction you take with the car and new ideas.

“Also, the more you have experience, the more you can adapt to certain things.

“I hope that’s going to be my strength. Also, they should know I’m quite a good team player with anyone who works alongside me.”