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Wolff: Bottas ‘has done enough’ to secure 2018 Mercedes F1 seat

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Valtteri Bottas appears to be closing in on an extended Mercedes Formula 1 deal after team boss Toto Wolff said he “has done enough to secure his place” with the German marque for 2018.

Bottas joined Mercedes in January following F1 world champion Nico Rosberg’s shock retirement, signing a one-year deal.

The Finn has made a strong start to life with Mercedes, taking his maiden F1 pole and win within his first four races, and currently sits third in the drivers’ championship.

Bottas has proven popular with triple-champion teammate Lewis Hamilton, who has said he would like the ex-Williams racer to remain alongside him in the future.

Wolff recently admitted that Bottas was in an “uncomfortable situation” waiting to get a decision on his future, but stressed Mercedes would not rush into a decision.

Speaking to NBCSN in Austria for Friday’s edition of Paddock Pass, Wolff stated that Bottas’ on-track displays so far this season had been good enough to secure a seat for 2018.

However, Wolff confirmed that Mercedes was thinking more long-term when making a firm decision about the Finn’s future, reasoning the delay.

“I think he has done enough to secure his place,” Wolff said.

“We just need to make a decision on what happens beyond ’18 and ’19, and we are looking at the situation.

“It is not down to him to ramp up his game or confirm his performance, that plays no role.

“He is certainly capable.”

When asked if Bottas was looking good for a one-year extension, Wolff said: “We’re going to decide through the summer.”

The driver market for 2018 features a number of high-profile drivers who are out of contract, including world champions Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel.

Alonso is known to be evaluating his options as he bids to return to winning ways in F1 and add to his trophy haul, with a Mercedes seat being one of the most lucrative on the grid.

However, the prospect of partnering the Spaniard with Hamilton for a second time after their volatile season together at McLaren in 2007 seems unlikely.

Hamilton even said himself on Thursday that he would prefer to keep Bottas at Mercedes than be joined by Alonso for a second time.

Vettel currently leads the F1 drivers’ championship with Ferrari after taking three wins so far this season, and is set to discuss a new contract with the Italian team over the summer.

Should Bottas be handed a one-year extension, his deal length would match up with Hamilton’s, making them both out of contract at the end of 2018 and allow Mercedes to manage both seats in tandem.

Usain Bolt, Bill Clinton among headline guests for USGP at COTA

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The Circuit of The Americas paddock ahead of the United States Grand Prix may have been busy with teams and drivers preparing for lights out, but much of the attention lay with a number of headline guests including former presidents and Olympic champions.

As part of its plans to up the excitement levels ahead of Sunday’s grand prix and mirror other sporting events, F1’s new owner, Liberty Media, announced plans a couple of weeks ago to link up with iconic boxing announcer Michael Buffer and eight-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt for the pre-race festivities.

Ahead of today’s race in Austin, Buffer will introduce the drivers in a number of groups before offering the call for drivers to start their engines, similar to the pre-race procedure for the Indianapolis 500.

Honorary race starter Bolt, who competed in his last athletic world championship event in London earlier this year, will appear on the start line to complete his signature victory pose before waving the green flags to launch the formation lap.

Bolt was also treated to a hot lap around COTA by Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton before the start of the formal pre-race build up program in Austin.

Liberty issued a list of celebrities and other public figures who are confirmed to be attending today’s race, including Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden and actor Owen Wilson among others.

One name that wasn’t on the list? 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, who quickly became a focus for the paddock upon arrival three hours before lights out.

The United States Grand Prix is live on NBC and NBC Sports app from 2pm ET today.