Mercedes announced today that it has extended Valtteri Bottas’s contract for the 2018 season. The Finnish driver was signed on a one year contract for 2017 as a replacement for Nico Rosberg who announced a shock retirement from the sport after winning the 2016 championship. The Silver Arrows had to scramble around to sign a driver in the German champion’s place after all the driver signings for 2017 had already been sealed. Bottas was under contract with the Williams team and was allowed to move to the Mercedes team for 2017. Williams had to bring out the newly retired Felipe Massa to replace the Finn.
Mercedes signs Valtteri Bottas for 2018
The Finn has settled nicely into his new team and performed well in the 13 races so far. The 28-year old Bottas known for his calm temperament has developed a nice working relationship with the Mercedes team and his team mate, the mercurial Lewis Hamilton.
After the fractious relationship between Hamilton and Rosberg over four seasons, the Brackley-based team is enjoying the new found harmony within the team. Bottas has also performed well racking up two wins and seven podiums, including his maiden race win at the Russian Grand Prix. Bottas is currently third in the drivers’ title race with 197 points, 41 points adrift of his teammate Hamilton who leads the standings.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff was happy to retain Bottas for a second year: “We gave Valtteri a big challenge this year: joining the team at the eleventh hour, stepping up to the forefront of F1 and pairing with the sport’s best driver as his team-mate. With that in mind, his results have been probably even more impressive,” he said.
“There have been ups and downs – more ups, fewer downs – and some great highlights like his two race wins in Russian and Austria. Overall, the balance of his performances and his upward trajectory made it a no-brainer for us to continue with him into 2018.
“For our team, the bonus factors are the respect and sportsmanship that have grown between our two drivers. The chemistry and dynamic between Valtteri and Lewis work and are what we need to take the fight to our competitors.”
Bottas was also very happy to continue his relationship with Mercedes for 2018: “I am honoured and proud to continue to work with Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport in 2018 and to remain part of the Mercedes family.
“Together, we continue to grow stronger day by day, and by keeping up our hard work I believe the sky is the limit.
“Since joining the team in January, I’ve enjoyed every day working with them. The welcome and the support from every team member and all the fans has been invaluable.
“As a driver, I’ve been able to learn and grow massively, and we have already enjoyed some really good moments this season that I will never forget.
“I’ve been very impressed by the mentality, commitment and the team spirit this team holds. Partnering Lewis has also been really good, and I’m enjoying the respect we have and the will to push this team forward together.”
“When the team hired me for the 2017 season, they took a leap of faith by putting their trust in my skills. This new contract for 2018 shows that I’ve earned that trust,” he added.
“I’m happy to have celebrated my first race wins in a Silver Arrow. However, there’s always room for improvement and I still have not shown my full potential. I will continue to work hard on and off the track, to further improve my driving, get even better results and show that putting their trust in me was the right decision.
“I want to thank all the board members, the people at the factories in Brackley and Brixworth as well as the race team and all the fans for their support and trust. It means a lot to me,” he concluded.
By extending Bottas’s contract for only one season, Mercedes are keeping their options open for the 2019 season. In 2019, several drivers like Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen will be out of contract and available in the drivers market. The one-year extension will keep Bottas on his toes and he will be forced to produce a strong performance next season to secure a long-term contract beyond 2018.
Embed from Getty Images