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.”