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Wolff: Bottas ‘has done enough’ to secure 2018 Mercedes F1 seat

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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.

Reviewing Danica Patrick’s highs and lows at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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So much of Danica Patrick’s fame can be traced to Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It’s where she became a household name 13 years ago when she became the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500 and emerged as a transcendent athlete.

It’s where everything started. This Sunday, it’s where everything will end, too.

In her last warmup before starting the final race of her career, Patrick had a bumpy final practice Friday on Carb Day. She was eighth fastest, but her Dallara-Chevrolet was in the garage most of the session because of an electrical problem in the engine. After returning during the final 10 minutes of the session, Patrick’s No. 13 seemed to be OK.

“At the end of the day, these are things you’re actually glad for, because if this had happened Sunday, we would have been done,” she said. “I’m glad to get the issues out of the way early on. Overall, today felt good. We made some changes when I went out the second time, and I’m feeling good about starting seventh on Sunday.”
Though she has had her share of success – along with a fourth in her debut, there was a third in 2009 and six top 10s in seven starts — Patrick has learned well how to handle frustration at the 2.5-mile track, too.

Fuel mileage might have kept her from winning her debut, a pit collision ruined 2008, and an unstable setup made 2010 a wild ride.

For a review of her up-and-down history at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and her legacy in racing, watch the video essay above that ran during Friday’s NASCAR America Motorsports Special on NBCSN.