28-year-old Finnish driver will be staying at Mercedes for at least another year
Lewis Hamilton will be partnered by Valtteri Bottas next season after Mercedes confirmed the Finn has signed a new one-year extension.
Less than 24 hours after the Silver Arrows announced Hamilton will extend his stay with the team until 2020, it was revealed that Bottas will also be retained for at least more one year.
The 28-year-old Finnish driver, who was signed as a replacement for Nico Rosberg, has quietly impressed in his second full season at Mercedes, occasionally out-performing team-mate Hamilton.
Mercedes considered a move for Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo, out of contract at the end of the season, but remained faithful to Bottas. They also have an option to keep the Finn on for 2020.
Bottas is fifth in the drivers’ championship, 59 points behind Hamilton, but probably should be higher only for a series of unfortunate incidents to so far derail his campaign.
He suffered a late puncture in Azerbaijan which denied him a certain win. He was then taken off by Sebastian Vettel at the first corner of the French Grand Prix in June, while he retired from second place with technical gremlins in Austria earlier this month.
“This year, with a full winter of preparation, I have been able to make a good step forward – and I believe that there is still more to come,” Bottas said.
“We have not been so lucky in the races this year but the team knows how I am performing, and this is a great sign of confidence in me and my driving.
“I enjoy working with the team, and also being team-mates with Lewis – we have a good relationship, honest and straightforward, and always aiming to get the right results for Mercedes.
“Obviously, my goal is to keep performing at a high level – and to make it a no-brainer for the team when it comes to deciding their plans for 2020 as well.”
Ricciardo, a two-time winner this season, made no secret of his desire to team up with Hamilton at Mercedes.
But while the Silver Arrows were keen on the Australian, they resisted a move in order to retain a steady ship following years of political in-fighting between Hamilton and Rosberg.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff added: “We are very pleased to extend Valtteri’s contract with Mercedes for another season at least – and to be able to confirm an unchanged driver line-up for 2019, ahead of our home race in Hockenheim.
“Valtteri’s performances have been excellent this season and, if not for our mistakes and his misfortune, he could be leading the drivers’ championship at the moment.
“When we took the decision in favour of Valtteri for 2019, it wasn’t just about his undoubted speed and work ethic, but also a question of character. His relationship with the team, including Lewis, is open and trusting, without any politics at all.”
“Those are the ingredients you need when you’re fighting strong rivals in both championships and they mirror the values inside the team. I am very excited to keep Valtteri in the team and look forward to celebrating many more successes with him.”