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Bottas continues to wait on news of Mercedes F1 plans

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Valtteri Bottas had no updates to provide regarding his Formula 1 future upon returning to the paddock after the summer break for this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix as Mercedes continues to consider its options for 2018.

Bottas joined Mercedes on a one-year deal in January following world champion Nico Rosberg’s shock retirement from the sport just five days after clinching his maiden title.

The Finn had surpassed most expectations so far this season, winning two races and sitting third in the drivers’ championship behind Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Mercedes F1 chief Toto Wolff told NBCSN last month that Bottas had done enough to secure an extension, but that plans beyond 2018 meant the team could make no firm decision.

Bottas and Mercedes began to discuss 2018 plans ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix, but despite the three-week break before Spa, nothing firm has been decided on.

“For me, there’s no news yet,” Bottas said.

“We will tell you the news when there is some.”

Despite the continued waiting game, Bottas does not feel under any extra pressure to deliver on-track, having been made to sweat on his future for longer in the past.

“For me it doesn’t make a difference. Coming to this weekend, I’m not thinking about it,” Bottas said.

“Like I’ve said before, I’m used to these situations over the last few years, always the same thing that there’s no confirmation about next year.

“So now that we start the race weekend with a practice tomorrow, it’s not going to be in my mind, for sure.

“I’m just going to focus on the driving and the weekend, getting the most out of the weekend so no pressure from there.”

The Belgian Grand Prix is live across NBCSN, CNBC and the NBC Sports app this weekend.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.