HOCKENHEIM, Germany — Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton has finally signed a new contract with Mercedes.
After months of deliberation and stalling, the four-time F1 champion penned a new deal with Mercedes until 2020. No figures were given in a Mercedes statement on Thursday, but it is reportedly estimated at 40 million pounds ($52 million) per year.
Mercedes has won the past four drivers’ and constructors’ championships – with Hamilton clinching three of them – but this season is testing the Silver Arrows team.
Hamilton trails Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel by eight points, and Mercedes is 20 points behind Ferrari in the constructors’ championship.
The 33-year-old Hamilton has won 65 races – 44 of those with Mercedes – and secured 124 career podiums. He is the F1 record holder with 76 pole positions.
Formula One’s “Flying Finn” is going back home for the first time.
More precisely, Valtteri Bottas is returning to his Finland homeland to compete in his first career rally race in the Finnish Rally Championship season opener.
Bottas, teammates on the F1 Mercedes team with five-time champ Lewis Hamilton, will compete in the World Rally Championships’ Arctic Lapland Rally from January 24-26.
He’ll team with two-time World Rally champion Timo Rautiainen in a M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC on rally roads of the Finnish Arctic Circle.
“This is a unique opportunity to take a peek into the world of rallying,” Bottas told Finnish rallying website Rallism.f1. “I would like to thank everyone who has made it possible.
“It’s totally new territory for me too, as I have no prior experience of a World Rally Car. Still, being the race car driver that I am, you always go flat out whatever the vehicle you’re driving in.”
Added Rautiainen, “In my life, I’ve sat in a rally car with only three drivers, but this is such an interesting mission that I just had to accept the challenge. I believe that for a talented wheelman like Valtteri, we’ll be able to establish a good basic driving routine in testing.”