Mercedes have confirmed that Valtteri Bottas will remain as Lewis Hamilton’s team mate in 2020, ending months of speculation about who would claim the coveted second Silver Arrow seat next season.
Mercedes’ reserve driver Esteban Ocon had been under consideration for the drive, but the team have instead opted to exercise an option to retain 30-year-old Bottas, who has scored five wins over his two and half seasons racing in silver.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said that it was Bottas’s strong form that had led to him being retained.
“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.
“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.”
After a tough 2018 campaign in which he failed to reach the top step of the podium as team mate Hamilton scored 11 wins and a fifth world title, Bottas has been a driver ‘rebooted’ in 2019.
The season began with a bang for the Finn as he won the season-opener in Australia, before consecutive second places in Bahrain and China and a further win in Azerbaijan. Bottas hasn’t won since, but his four pole positions ties Hamilton for the most this season, and his consistent finishing has him second in the championship standings behind the Briton.
“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.”