Mercedes are set to maintain its current driver pairing for 2021 with several sources suggesting that Valtteri Bottas has agreed to terms to continue his partnership with the team and go into next year as teammate to Lewis Hamilton for a fifth successive season.
Bottas, who comes out of contract at the end of the current season, is undoubtedly the most obvious driver choice to partner Hamilton next season after a dominant Austrian Grand Prix victory and a commanding drive to second in last weekend’s Styrian race.
A lacklustre 2019 campaign in which he finished 87 points adrift of his teammate in the final standings meant the Finn was to have his opening half to the current season closely examined to determine whether he is a suitable fit for the team.
However, with the 2020 season massively hindered amid the global pandemic and the subsequent news four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel is on the driver market, seeking a seat in one of the top teams, has meant a contract renewal has been pushed forward.
Incidentally, a newly inked deal linking Bottas to Mercedes for 2021 has closed yet another door for Vettel after Red Bull team boss Christian Horner bluntly said last weekend they are not interested in the German’s services.
Reports from AutoSport are confirming Bottas has agreed to new terms to stay on with the team which has brought all eight of his career victories.
Bottas hinted at a speedy contract deal last weekend where he admitted the short season has fast-dated everything and a fresh renewal will alleviate any distraction from the world championship.
“Obviously it’s a very special season starting so late,” Bottas said. “So, the timing is not really relevant to other seats and we’ve only done one race.
“On the other hand there’s no rush, but also yes, time will fly by quickly and as soon as we know it, it’s going to be the end of the season. So yeah, hopefully we can do something with that and get that kind of out of my mind.
“As we’ve seen, if things drag on, it’s never a benefit. So, we can learn from that. We’ll be taking actions based on what I learned.”
A confirmation of Bottas’ deal is expected shortly in order to allow the championship leader to centre his attention on the rest of the truncated season.
Formula 1 will stage its third Grand Prix in succession next weekend at the Hungaroring on July 20 NZT.