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Mercedes keeping ‘all options open’ with Bottas in F1 title bid

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Mercedes is not yet ready to ask Valtteri Bottas to abandon his outside bid for a maiden Formula 1 world title and support teammate Lewis Hamilton, with team boss Toto Wolff eager to “keep all options open”.

An impressive mid-season run of form has seen Bottas move into the fight at the front of the drivers’ championship with Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, with wins in Russia and Austria being underpinned by seven further podiums this year.

Bottas sits 41 points off Hamilton at the top of the standings with seven races to go, and while Ferrari appears to have thrown its support behind Vettel over Kimi Raikkonen, Mercedes will continue to aid both its drivers’ title bids.

“Ferrari has a situation where Sebastian has been scoring lots of points and Kimi, for whatever reason, not so much. Therefore, for them, it’s probably a little bit easier,” Wolff said.

“Our boys were pretty close together, until probably Spa. The situation is a little bit different now.

“But we would like to keep all options open and evaluate the situation in every race and see how it develops.”

Bottas continues to wait on news of a new Mercedes contract beyond the end of 2017, but Wolff once again re-affirmed the team’s expectation that the Finn will stay on for next season.

“It is a no-brainer for the team to continue with Valtteri. Within the team the dynamic between the drivers is important in order to extract the best possible result,” Wolff said.

“We’re very happy with Valtteri. It’s his first year with the team. He had very good moments like in Sochi, and he had more difficult races, like in Spa.

“But we are not manic depressive, and therefore stability is important and we want to keep him in the team and it’s just down to the contractual situation, the nailing it and signing it, and hopefully we can do this.”

Pirelli reveals new super-hard, hyper-soft F1 tires in Abu Dhabi

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Pirelli has confirmed it will add two new tires to its range for the 2018 Formula 1 season, launching the ‘super-hard’ and ‘hyper-soft’ compounds in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

Pirelli currently makes three of its five dry compounds available to teams for each race weekend, and despite varying selections across the course of the season has struggled to offer much in terms of strategy options, with one-stop races being the norm.

The hope is that the addition of two new tire compounds and a re-alignment of their durability will offer teams more choices in races.

Pirelli confirmed plans to introduce a new softest tire below the current ultra-soft earlier this month, inviting fans to pick a name.

The pink-colored compound will be known as the ‘hyper-soft’ from next year, with the arrival of a new ‘super-hard’ (colored ‘ice blue’) also being confirmed at a launch event in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

“Compared to this year, when the tires grew by 25% to fit a brand-new generation of cars, the changes for next year are less far-reaching,” Pirelli head of car racing Mario Isola said.

“However, we’re pleased to present some important innovations with softer and faster compounds across the range: including the new hypersoft.

“We realized that, under the unique circumstances of this year, some of our 2017 compounds were perhaps conservative: the tires we have created for 2018 addresses this, in line with the objective of having around two pit stops at most races.

“However, the fundamental design concept of the tires hasn’t changed next year, preserving the attributes that all drivers have appreciated this year and allowing them to push hard from the start to the finish of each stint.

“The new range consists of faster tires that should lead to even harder and more spectacular racing in 2018.”

Besides the seven dry compounds made available, there will be the two rain tires – wet and intermediate – taking it to a total of nine for the 2018 season.