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.