New Bottas/Mercedes deal agreed ‘in principle’

Mark Scott
Palmer: Valtteri Bottas was saved by the Safety Car

Palmer: Valtteri Bottas was saved by the Safety Car are reporting that Valtteri Bottas will extend his stay with Mercedes into 2021 after he agreed a new deal ‘in principle’.

While there is no official announcement as of yet, it is believed that Bottas’ strong start to the season – a race win and P2 to sit top of the World Championship standings after two races – has helped fully cement the Finn’s place at the Silver Arrows for another season.

Bottas has found himself in a very familiar situation in 2020 when it comes to his Mercedes contracts. He has been on a rolling one-year contract ever since he replaced the retired 2016 World Champion Nico Rosberg.

The latest contenders to his seat over the last few months have been George Russell, Sebastian Vettel and Esteban Ocon but he has seen off all the competition and kept hold of his seat for another 12 months.

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Mercedes CEO Ola Kallenius confirmed during the first weekend of the revised 2020 Formula 1 season that Lewis Hamilton and Bottas were the team’s “boys” for the 2021 campaign and now those negotiations with Bottas have been finalised.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, however, still appears to be in no rush to confirm anything just yet.

“You know that always when I tell you about timings, I keep hearing every single week ‘why isn’t it done? Why isn’t it signed?'” he said.

“And that’s why this year around, I wouldn’t want to live comment about the status of our negotiations or discussions. They’re happening. I don’t know when we’re going to announce.”

Bottas, meanwhile, had been hoping for the deal to be concluded quickly so he can completely focus on his racing again.

He said: “Obviously it’s a very special season starting so late. 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.”

The Bottas news will mean that Mercedes junior driver Russell will remain at Williams and see out at least the final third year of the initially agreed contract between the two teams.

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