GENEVA, Switzerland – Mercedes Formula 1 chief Toto Wolff says he can appreciate that Valtteri Bottas is in an “uncomfortable situation” as he waits to hear about his future with the team beyond the end of the 2017 season.
Bottas joined Mercedes from Williams for 2017 following Nico Rosberg’s shock decision to retire after winning the F1 drivers’ title last November, freeing up a seat alongside Lewis Hamilton.
Bottas was signed on an initial one-year deal by Mercedes, and has impressed through his first seven races with the team, scoring his maiden victory in Russia at the end of April.
The Finn has proven popular among the team members at Brackley, as well as helping to ease some of the tension that emerged through the Hamilton-Rosberg rivalry.
Mercedes is still yet to decide on whether Bottas will continue for 2018, though, with high-profile drivers such as Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso both out of contract and up for grabs.
“Of course it’s an uncomfortable situation for him with quite some pressure,” Wolff said during the FIA Sport Conference in Geneva earlier this week.
“When we decided to make Valtteri the offer, he knew that we would be taking our time for the decision going forward because the driver market is more open in 2018 and beyond, 2018 and 2019, and he knew that.
“So that’s why we will not rush into a decision, but continue to work with him and see how that pans out. But generally the view of the team is that he’s done a good job.”
When asked if Bottas’ gamble to move to Mercedes from Williams could backfire and leave him without a seat next year, Wolff said: “He has taken a decision to leave Williams and join Mercedes in a one-year deal.
“I think that the perception of him as a racing driver has gained. He’s won a race rather than lost, so I think it already paid off.”