VALTTERI BOTTAS has signed a one-year extension to his Mercedes deal – with the team set to switch their attention to Lewis Hamilton.
The Finn, who is currently second in the championship, will remain with the team until 2021.
The 30-year-old’s deal is worth around £8million a year as Merc decided against breaking up their winning partnership.
Bottas, 30, has eight wins and 48 podiums for the Silver Arrows and is incredibly low-maintenance in his relationship with Hamilton.
He said: “I’m very happy to stay with Mercedes in 2021 and build on the success we’ve enjoyed together already.
“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.”
Merc boss Toto Wolff is now expected to start talks with Hamilton as his deal expires at the end of this year.
Wolff added: “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.”