Mercedes confirmed that Valtteri Bottas will drive for them in Formula 1 until at least the end of 2019 and most likely the year after that too, while the grateful Finn knows he is in one of the most coveted seats in the sport and thanked the team for keeping the faith.
The morning after Mercedes confirmed Lewis Hamilton’s two-year deal, the German team announced that Valtteri Bottas would be retained.
Speaking during the first day of practice at Hockenheim, Bottas said, “It meant a lot to me that the team opted for me and no-one else. Everyone wants to be in this seat – I think this is the most wanted seat in the paddock. I’m really proud to be part of this team.
“It was pretty straightforward. We already had kind of a plan for the future. We seriously spoke about the contract for the first team in Silverstone – it’s not that far ago. Now we are here. It was pretty easy.”
Hamilton’s salary of $52-million plus bonuses will dwarf Bottas’s annual retainer which is expected to be around the $10-million mark.
The salary deficit and being up against one of the best drivers of this era, does not perturb Bottas but rather inspires him, “It pushes me a lot forward. I’m happy Lewis is staying with the team. I think it’s good for me as well. It will still be tough to beat him but that will be the target for me.”
“For our team, for me, for Lewis it is very good situation knowing that we’re both going to be here next year. Working hard together for all of our benefit. As before we are on equal terms, which is obviously good.”
Team chief Toto Wolff cited the manner in which Bottas works is non-confrontational and very much a team player.
Bottas added, “Everyone in the team knows that both drivers will be here next year. So we can really work together and work our best. It definitely gives confidence.”
“It’s nice that it’s now official. Never in my career so far I have known at this point already for next year, so that’s positive.”
“I felt like a small amount of pressure went off my shoulders. I didn’t want to think about it but now it is a good situation for us as a team.”
“We can now focus on the rest of the year. It is going to be a tough battle between two, maybe even three teams. We need to stay focused and need to keep pushing,” insisted Bottas.