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

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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.”

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.