Sports

Bottas to stay with Mercedes for 2018

Formula One world champions Mercedes announced what they said was a "no-brainer" of a deal yesterday by signing Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas for another season alongside Lewis Hamilton.

Bottas joined from Williams in January after Hamilton's previous teammate, last year's world champion Nico Rosberg, decided to retire within days of winning the title last November.

Bottas, 28, has won two races this season, in Austria and Russia, and is third in the standings with a 41-point gap on championship leader Hamilton.

The extension was widely expected after four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel signed a new long-term deal with Ferrari last month after being linked with a move to Mercedes.

"We gave Valtteri a big challenge this year: Joining the team at the 11th hour, stepping up to the forefront of F1 and pairing with the sport's best driver as his teammate," said team boss Toto Wolff.

"With that in mind, his results have been probably even more impressive... 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 joined on a one-year-deal and his new contract still leaves everything open for 2019, when the driver market is likely to go through major upheaval with several top names in the spotlight.

Both Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo are tied to that team for next year, but are hot properties while Ferrari are likely to be seeking a replacement for Kimi Raikkonen.

Hamilton's contract is also up for renewal and expires at the end of next year, although he has said he expects to agree a new deal.

Bottas at least gets a chance to cement his reputation and win more races.

"Partnering Lewis has also been really good, and I'm enjoying the respect we have and the will to push this team forward together," said the Finn. - REUTERS

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