SINGAPORE: Formula One world champions Mercedes announced what they said was a ‘no-brainer’ of a deal on Wednesday by signing Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas for another season alongside Lewis Hamilton. Bottas joined from Williams in January after Hamilton’s previous team mate, Germany’s 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg, decided to retire within days of winning the title last November. The 28-year-old has won two races so far this season, in Austria and Russia, and is third in the standings with a 41 point gap to championship leader Hamilton. The extension was widely expected after four times world champion Sebastian Vettel signed a new long-term deal with Ferrari last month, removing a leading candidate for the job. “We gave Valtteri a big challenge this year: joining the team at the 11th hour, stepping up to the forefront of F1 and pairing with the sport’s best driver as his team mate,” said team boss Toto Wolff in a statement. “With that in mind, his results have been probably even more impressive... the balance of his performances and his upward trajectory made it a no-brainer for us to continue with him into 2018. “For our team, the bonus factors are the respect and sportsmanship that have grown between our two drivers. The chemistry and dynamic between Valtteri and Lewis work and are what we need to take the fight to our competitors.” Bottas joined on a one-year-deal and his new contract still leaves everything open for 2019, when the driver market is likely to go through major upheaval with several top names in the spotlight.
Published in Daily Times, September 14th 2017.