Valtteri Bottas has signed a new one year extension to stay at Mercedes for 2018.
The announcement, which was expected, means that the top three teams of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull will have the same line up as this season going into 2018.
The Finn has impressed since his debut for the team at Australia, replacing outgoing World Champion Nico Rosberg. He has claimed seven podium finishes including two wins in Russia and Austria, his first wins in F1.
The one year deal means that the team is leaving all options open for 2019. Both its drivers will be out of contract after next season and with many others on the grid including the Red Bull drivers and a spot at Ferrari with Raikkonen on a new one year deal and many thinking the Finn will retire after 2018. Sebastian Vettel just signed a new three year deal at Ferrari recently but many believe that there is get out clauses attached to it should they be required.
“I am honoured and proud to continue to work with Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsports in 2018 and to remain part of the Mercedes family,” Bottas said.
“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.
“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.”
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff had hinted that re signing Bottas was a no-brainer but it is clear that he was considering the market as a whole and looking to the future as well rather than just next season.
“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.
“There have been ups and downs – more ups, fewer downs – and some great highlights like his two race wins in Russia 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.”
So although 2018 might be sorted the prospect of 2019 merry-go-round seems interesting with many top drivers available at this time. Hamilton himself has never hid his desire to race for Ferrari but with Vettel there till 2020 this wouldn’t seem likely. Alonso might sign a new deal with McLaren on the back of the recent divorce from Honda but would likely have performance clauses to get out should he need. Its going to be an interesting driver market come this time next year.
Photo Credit: Sky Sports