Valtteri Bottas will remain at the Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 team for the 2020 season, it has been confirmed.
The Finnish driver’s future at the Silver Arrows has been the subject of intense speculation during the mid-season break, with a dip in form triggering rumours that the team might promote its reserve driver Esteban Ocon in his place.
The Brackley squad has instead opted to exercise its option on Bottas’ services, keeping an unchanged driver pairing with Lewis Hamilton for a fourth season.
“I am very happy and proud to be part of the team for a fourth season and wish to thank every team member and the board of Mercedes for their trust and belief in me,” said Bottas.
“My performances have been getting better and better each year, and this is a great way to kick start the second half of 2019.
“My overall target is to become Formula One world champion. I believe that on paper, and from my experience with the team, Mercedes is the best option for me to achieve that goal in 2020.
“We have nine races to go this season and I am determined to keep improving at every one of them. Now, all my thoughts are on Spa and delivering a strong performance with the team this weekend.”
After a winless 2018 campaign, Bottas kickstarted his 2019 season in earnest with an assured victory at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix and then backed that up with another win at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix to reclaim a slender lead in the Drivers’ Championship standings over teammate Hamilton.
That was the last point at which he bettered the Englishman in race conditions, with Hamilton winning six of the next eight Grands Prix to move to a 62-point lead over Bottas.
“For 2019, we set Valtteri the challenge of coming back even stronger than we saw him in the first part of 2018 – and he has achieved that, with some really impressive performances in the early races this year,” said team boss Toto Wolff.
“Although it has been his most successful first half of a championship so far, he is hungry for more and determined to keep on improving and raising his level. That’s the mindset we want from all our team members.
“The results we have achieved together with Valtteri are no coincidence: he has been an integral part of our championship success in the past two seasons, his teamwork with Lewis has been exemplary and he has shown real strength of character in how he has responded to setbacks.
“I’m delighted that he will stay with the team for another season at least – and look forward to seeing him raise the bar even further.”
With Bottas’ seat now secure, that leaves Ocon – who failed to secure a race seat in 2019 – as a free agent. The Frenchman is widely tipped to join Renault as teammate to Daniel Ricciardo, replacing Nico Hülkenberg.
Images via Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport