F1: Mercedes keen to lock up Valtteri Bottas for long haul

By @saihoops on
Valtteri Bottas, Russian Grand Prix
Formula One - F1 - Chinese Grand Prix - Shanghai, China - 7/4/17 - Mercedes Formula One driver Valtteri Bottas (L) of Finland arrives at his garage during the first practice session. Reuters / Aly Song

Mercedes, the reigning three-time Formula One constructors champions, intend to sign Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas to a long-term extension, according to reports. Bottas left Williams to join Mercedes on a one-year deal at the start of the 2017 Formula One season. 

The 27-year-old Bottas replaced reigning Formula One World Champion Nico Rosberg, who retired at the end of the 2016 season. With victories at Russia and Austria, Bottas (169 points) has threatened to make the two-horse world title race between Sebastian Vettel (202 points) and teammate Lewis Hamilton (188 points) into a three-way affair. 

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff had previously stressed on a one-year, wait-and-watch approach with Bottas. However, the Finn's impressive run has given the Silver Arrows to give Bottas a permanent seat. “It’s a good time to talk and to think things through. We had some good discussions with Valtteri before Hungary and I’d certainly like to dash over to Asia for the final races with a decision," Wolff said at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Mercedes, Bottas talking contract extension 

With former World Champions Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel becoming free agents at the end of the year, Wolff expects an interesting offseason. “The market becomes pretty interesting in 2019 and onwards and you just need to plan ahead what’s happening. I would just like to put the puzzle together, it is not only about 2018. It is about looking forward in 2019 and 2020.”

Bottas has insisted that there is no urgency to sign a contract extension. “There could be some progress to be made on that during the break because obviously the last month has been pretty hectic. It’s been difficult to have proper meetings and discussions with so many races. For sure there is some time but there is no rush, we don’t need to get anything done before Spa.”

The 2017 Formula One season returns with the Belgian Grand Prix at the hallowed Spa-Francorchamps during the last weekend of August. World Championship leader Sebastian Vettel won the Hungarian Grand Prix, the final race before the ongoing summer break, to claim a 14-point lead over rival Lewis Hamilton.