Valtteri Bottas re-signs for another season with Mercedes F1 team

F1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes
Mario Renzi - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images
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Valtteri Bottas will stay in Formula One next season with the Mercedes team, clearing the way for remaining teamed with six-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton.

The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team announced Bottas’ contract extension in a statement Thursday that also hinted Hamilton’s contract extension is coming soon.

Mercedes has won the past six championships and is unbeaten in F1 this season. Bottas won the season opener, and Hamilton captured victories in the past three races. He enters Sunday’s race at Silverstone with a 30-point lead on Bottas for the championship.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said in the release: “We are very excited that Valtteri will stay with the team for at least one more season. We’re seeing the strongest Valtteri we’ve ever seen this year – in terms of his on-track performance, but also physically and mentally. He is second in the championship, finished the last season in P2 and plays a very important part in our overall team performance.

“I’m confident that we have the strongest driver pairing in F1 today and signing Valtteri is an important first step in retaining this strength for the future. Valtteri is a hard-working, straightforward guy who has a good relationship with the entire team – including his team-mate, which is not a given when both drivers are fighting for the championship.

“I’m looking forward to seeing him continue to raise the bar together with us this year and in 2021.”

Hamilton remains in a contract year and said in preseason testing that talks had been put on hold to focus on the season. Wolff’s comments reaffirm, though, that Hamilton is expected to return with Bottas next year.

Hamilton signed his most recent deal in June 2018, halfway through the final season of his previous contract. Though he had been linked to Ferrari, the team has filled its 2021 lineup and also has struggled mightily this year.

Bottas joined the team in 2017 when Nico Rosberg retired as the reigning series champion. The Finnish driver has eight victories in 66 starts.

Here’s the release:

The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team is delighted to announce that it has extended its agreement with Valtteri Bottas until at least the end of the 2021 Formula One season.

The new arrangement will see Valtteri compete with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team for the fifth consecutive season.

He joined Mercedes in 2017 and has so far scored eight wins and 12 pole positions with the team, as well as 39 of his 48 F1 podium finishes.

Valtteri played a key role in the team’s success in the Constructors’ Championship over the past three seasons and finished runner-up in the Drivers’ Championship in 2019. He is currently second in the 2020 Drivers’ standings, too.

“I’m very happy to stay with Mercedes in 2021 and build on the success we’ve enjoyed together already,” said Valtteri. “Thank you to everyone in the team and the wider Mercedes family for their continued support and their trust in me. I’m very proud to represent this great team and the three-pointed star on our journey together again next year.

“The past few years have been all about continuous improvement, working on every aspect of my performance. I’m confident that today I’m the strongest I’ve ever been, but I can always raise the bar. Mercedes embraces the same philosophy: They always want to get better and are always hungry for more.

“Ever since I fell in love with F1 as a kid it’s been my dream to one day become world champion. I’m in the fight for the title this year and staying with Mercedes puts me in the best possible position to compete for it next season as well.

“We’re in the middle of a shortened season and I want to give my absolute best in every single race we’ll go to this year. The puncture last weekend was a bit of a blow in my fight with Lewis, but I’m determined to come back strong this weekend on the same track.”

Toto Wolff said: “We are very excited that Valtteri will stay with the team for at least one more season.

“We’re seeing the strongest Valtteri we’ve ever seen this year – in terms of his on-track performance, but also physically and mentally. He is second in the championship, finished the last season in P2 and plays a very important part in our overall team performance.

“I’m confident that we have the strongest driver pairing in F1 today and signing Valtteri is an important first step in retaining this strength for the future.

Valtteri is a hard-working, straightforward guy who has a good relationship with the entire team – including his team-mate, which is not a given when both drivers are fighting for the championship.

“I’m looking forward to seeing him continue to raise the bar together with us this year and in 2021.”

Sergio Perez wins rain-delayed race in Singapore over Leclerc; Verstappen seventh

Sergio Perez Singapore
Clive Rose/Getty Images,
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SINGAPORE — Max Verstappen’s Formula One title celebrations were put on hold after the Red Bull driver placed seventh at a chaotic Singapore Grand Prix, won by his teammate Sergio Perez on Sunday.

Perez’s second win of the season saw him finish 7.6 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, with Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. in third place.

Perez was investigated for a potential safety car infringement but still kept the win after a 5-second time penalty for dropping too far back after being warned.

Verstappen had won the past five races but needed to win here and finish 22 points ahead of Leclerc to be crowned champion for a second straight season. That could happen next weekend at the Japanese GP.

Verstappen made a mistake after the second safety car restart, following AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda’s crash on Lap 36. When Verstappen tried to overtake Lando Norris’ McLaren, he locked his tires and needed to pit again.

Leclerc started from pole position with Verstappen going from eighth after a team blunder in qualifying.

The race start was delayed by more than an hour to clear water off the Marina Bay Circuit track following heavy rainfall. Drivers had to finish the 61-lap race within a two-hour window; 59 laps were completed.

Tricky conditions saw the virtual safety car deployed three times and DRS was allowed with about 30 minutes remaining.

Perez made a good start and jumped past Leclerc while Verstappen dropped several places. The first safety car was on Lap 8 when Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo was cut off by Nicholas Latifi’s Williams.

Perez got away cleanly at the restart, while Verstappen climbed into seventh behind Fernando Alonso – whose 350th F1 race ended disappointingly when his engine failed on Lap 21, bringing out the first VSC.

With the track still damp, drivers decided against changing to quicker tires – apart from Mercedes’ George Russell, who struggled for grip.

Hamilton made a rare mistake on Lap 33 and thudded into the crash barrier. Soon after, the leading drivers changed tires in a flurry of stops. They did so just before the safety car was deployed again following Tsunoda’s error.

Verstappen overtook Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin right at the end for seventh place.