by H. Mayor – photo: mercedesamg.com | It was always the most likely of moves but now it is official: Valtteri Bottas signs a new deal with Mercedes AMG for the 2018 F1 season. The Finn driver’s continuity, along with that of Hamilton corroborated the middle-term trust that the scuderia, and first challenger for the World Champion title, has placed in both its pilots. Over the course of the season they have shown great rapport and compatibility, especially Valtteri towards Lewis’ aspirations.
The new contract is however for just one more year as Mercedes is keeping its options open for 2019 when important movements are expected between the best seats of the grid . Everything seems to be tied up for next season: Ferrari recently announced the renewal of Vettel (in this case for three more years until 2020) and Raikkonen. Red Bull is intending to keep both Ricciardo and Verstappen on their payroll making it very unlikely for any of them to decide to move away despite the dissatisfaction that they share about their single seater which is unable to reach Ferrari or Mercedes’s level.
Alonso and Sainz
As far as other drivers’ strategic moves go, the fate of the two of the Spanish pilots, Alonso and Sainz, is yet to be established. On the one hand, there is the question of Fernando Alonso continuing or not with McLaren. This is increasingly likely as an agreement with Renault to be their new engine supplier starts to materialise. On the other, there is Carlos Sainz’ future, which will be determined by the outcome of the negotiations between Toro Rosso, Renault and Honda.
Back to Bottas and we must not forget the tensions that aroused between him and Nico Rosberg in 2016 whom not only disregarded the predetermined roles of each driver but ended up winning the Championship. The continuity of the Finnish driver past 2018 will mean maintaining the current convivial climate and equilibrium in Mercedes.
Bottas has not only accepted his role as Hamilton’s esquire but has made himself a very valuable piece of the team’s strategy in his role containing other rivals on the track. And on the side he has managed two victories this year.