Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team has extended its contract with Valtteri Bottas for the 2018 season. The former Williams F1 driver got a last minute seat with Mercedes Formula 1 team when Nico Rosberg announced his shocking retirement after winning the world championship last season. However, the Finn managed to prove his mettle piloting the second W08 alongside teammate Lewis Hamilton, prompting Mercedes to extend his contract for another year. Given his strong performance, the contract extension was just a formality.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said, "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 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 has won two races this season in Austria and Russia as well as his first F1 pole positions in Bahrain and Austria; not to forget nine podium finishes as well. The 28-year-old currently sits third in the 2017 driver standings with 197 points, 41 points of from leader Hamilton. The Fin's consistent performance has also helped Mercedes build an impressive lead over Ferrari in the Constructors' Standings with 435 points.
Speaking about his contract extension, Bottas said, "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. 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."
By retaining Bottas for 2018, Mercedes has kept its options open for 2019 when a lot of drivers will be available on the market. However, if Valtteri continues to impress the bosses at Mercedes with his upward growth, the team might not want to look elsewhere.