Ahead of this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix, it was announced on Wednesday that Mercedes driver, Valtteri Bottas, has signed a contract extension retaining the Finnish driver through the 2018 season. Bottas was originally inked just before the opening race of 2017 to replace the reigning world driving champion Nico Rosberg who quite unexpectedly retired after his victory.
The timing of this extension along with the original contract offered by Mercedes strongly suggest that the team attempted to engage the services of other competitors before settling on Bottas. However, the decision has proven to be an excellent one, with the new Mercedes driver racking up two race victories in Russia and Austria, nine podiums and two poles. He has also built a solid relationship with his teammate, multiple world champion Lewis Hamilton.
“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,” said Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport. “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.”
It is imagined that Hamilton will be pleased with the signing, as he is known not to get along well other potential teammates that the Silver Arrows considered, such as Fernando Alonzo. The two drivers have blended seamlessly, and that must make team management must easier.
According to Valtteri Bottas, “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. 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.
“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. 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.”
Competition in the Formula One Series resumes on Friday with First Practice for the Singapore Grand Prix.
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