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Vitaly Petrov links up with Manor in WEC for 2017

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Ex-Formula 1 driver Vitaly Petrov will race for the CEFC Manor TRS Racing team in the FIA World Endurance Championship this year following the announcement of a deal on Friday.

Petrov raced in F1 between 2010 and 2012, scoring one podium finish for Renault and becoming Russia’s first representative in the world championship. A grandstand at the Sochi Autodrom was recently named in his honor.

Petrov moved into the WEC last year with SMP Racing in the LMP2 class, claiming a class podium at Le Mans alongside Kirill Ladygin and Viktor Shaitar.

The Russian driver will remain in LMP2 for 2017, switching to Manor following SMP Racing’s exit from the series as it prepares to step up to the LMP1 privateer class for 2018.

Petrov will race in the No. 25 ORECA 07 car alongside Simon Trummer and Roberto Gonzalez, with his public debut coming at Monza this weekend in the pre-season Prologue test.

“We are very happy to have Vitaly join our team, it is great to add another big talent to our driver line up,” Manor president Graeme Lowdon said.

“Vitaly has experience in WEC and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans so he is a very good addition to our team. We know Vitaly from our time in Formula 1, he is a very competitive driver and we are really looking forward to going racing with him in 2017.”

Petrov completes Manor’s WEC line-up for 2017, with the No. 25 car featuring fellow ex-F1 racer Jean-Eric Vergne alongside Jonathan Hirschi and the returning Tor Graves.

F1: Valtteri Bottas urges Lewis Hamilton to clear up Mercedes future and sign

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MONACO (AP) — Valtteri Bottas is urging Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to sign a new contract, even though his own future is uncertain.

Bottas needs to convince Mercedes to give him a new deal for next year. Hamilton, meanwhile, is stalling on signing a new one even though an offer is in place. Hamilton was again asked about his contract situation on Wednesday, and maintains he’s in no hurry.

“There isn’t any sticking point. There just hasn’t been any rush,” Hamilton said. “There’s no discussion with anybody else, there’s no consideration for anybody else, it’s just (me) taking my time.”

But Bottas would like Hamilton’s future cleared up.

“For sure I would. First of all, I would like to stay here. That is my goal for the long term. It would be nice if Lewis wants to stay and finds an agreement,” Bottas said at the Mercedes motorhome. “I enjoy working with him, I enjoy the challenge he gives me. I enjoy the fact he’s four-time world champion and at the moment I’m none. It makes me try harder to be better.

“It wouldn’t change my mind that I want to stay here, but I think we work well together,” he added.

Last season was their first together. Bottas was drafted in from Williams as an emergency replacement after Nico Rosberg retired. He won three races but he stood out more as the ideal support driver as Hamilton reclaimed the F1 title.

Bottas understands Mercedes expects improvement.

“We had a chat before the season and naturally we expect performance gains compared to last year, being closer to Lewis,” Bottas said. “That’s what you need to do in the second season.”

However, Bottas says he has not been set a specific target in terms of points or where he finishes overall.

“There’s no magic number,” he said. “There’s no clause or anything, so it’s how the team feels I’m performing.”

Bottas finished third overall last year behind Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel and Hamilton.

He is in the same overall position – 20 points behind Vettel and 37 adrift of Hamilton – heading into this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.

The Finnish driver would be closer if not for a dramatic finish at the Azerbaijan GP last month. With victory seemingly guaranteed, he sustained a tire puncture and ended up with no points. He bounced back with a fine drive for second place in Spain two weeks ago.

“I feel like I’ve met my performance targets. Pace-wise I’m on the level I need, but result-wise I’m not happy,” Bottas said. “It’s been strange. But I know if I keep improving very good things will come.”

He has faced a considerable amount of criticism with observers questioning whether he can compete at the top level. Yet driving under the constant pressure of having a point to prove has also made him more resilient.

“For sure it makes you tougher and better,” he said. “From each difficult weekend, I feel I’ve been able to turn it (around).”