Antti Aarnio-Wihuri, Valtteri Bottas' former main sponsor, has followed the Formula 1 rumor circus with interest.
Monday's news of the separation of Sebastian Vettel's and Ferrari's roads did not surprise the industrial insurgency that had been inside the series for years.
- When you looked at the work of Ferrari and Vettel last autumn and winter, the decision did not come as a big surprise to me. I have heard such rumors before that they will most likely not reach an extension agreement, he told Ilta-Sanomat by phone.
Aarnio-Wihuri, 80, the main owner and billionaire of the multi-sector group Wihuri, refers to the tenacious rumor heard from behind the scenes of F1 that Vettel collapsed in the twilight after freezing in the shadow of his young teammate Charles Leclerc.
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Aarnio-Wisuri could have predicted that Vettel's future substitute might well be Carlos Sainz jr. as announced on Wednesday.
- I have the impression that Ferrari has been thinking about this for a long time before a final solution was reached. I understand Sainz was their number one option.
Aarnio-Wihuri stopped supporting Bottas and Mercedes last year because the sponsorship did not benefit enough for the company.
Photo: Rita Tainola / IS
The rampant transfer roulette could also affect 30-year-old Bottas, whose contract with Mercedes will expire again this season.
According to the wildest rumor rumors, Mercedes would be tuning in to a super-fast but explosive star duo, with Vettel replacing Finnish world champion Lewis Hamilton as a teammate.
Aarnio-Wihuri recalls that Bottas' position in the German stable is anything but carved in stone.
- For some reason, Bottas has been loose there in Mersu for a long time. I don’t know what’s really in the background there or whether it’s just a show, he notes.
The former major supporter does not know whether Bottas's backing forces and Mercedes have made progress in their contract negotiations - or whether they have even begun.
- I haven't spoken to Toto (team manager Toto Wolff) since last July, so I don't know exactly what they're thinking. And now, of course, he doesn’t tell me everything in advance, Aarnio-Wihuri, who sponsored Mercedes through Bottas for years, laughs.
Bottas in the Barcelona F1 tests last February.
Photo: Italy Photo Press / Zuma / MVPhotos
The still life is not new to Nastola-based Bottas, who has only turned one-season contracts on the Mercedes journey that began in 2017.
- Of course, it is a rather difficult situation for him mentally, when he doesn't really know how and where to drive this season and the contract is also broken. It has been the same every year.
Aarnio-Wihuri has not heard the latest updates from its former shelter either. The reason for that is quite understandable.
- It's so terribly in love. There’s not much time to discuss when she’s focused on this Australian girl, he notes, referring to Bottas ’fresh girlfriend Tiffany Cromwell.
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