Mercedes have begun talks with Valtteri Bottas about extending his contract for 2018 and are hoping to reach an agreement before the Singapore GP.
Bottas joined the team in January on a one-year deal as a last minute replacement for Nico Rosberg who announced his retirement after winning last year’s Drivers’ Championship.
Bottas has been hugely impressive in his debut with the team, he has won two races so far and sits third in the championship standings after 11 races, just 33 points behind leader Sebastian Vettel.
In the past team boss Toto Wolff has been non-committal on Bottas’ future, but at the Hungarian GP he said that he hopes for progress to be made over the summer break.
“It’s a good time to talk and to think things through,” Wolff said. “We had some good discussions with Valtteri before Hungary and I’d certainly like to dash over to Asia for the final races with a decision.”
Bottas won his first race in April’s Russian GP and he was also victorious in last month’s Austrian GP.
Bottas so far hasn’t said too much but he has said that there will be discussions during the summer break. On the other hand he insisted that there is no rush and they don’t need “to get anything done before Spa.”
The situation is further complicated by the uncertainty of the driver market in 2019. At present none of the leading drivers are committed to teams for the 2019 season. Hamilton’s deal with Mercedes expires at the end of the next season and Red Bull’s contracts with Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen also expire in 18 months.
“The market becomes pretty interesting in 2019 and onwards and you just need to plan ahead what’s happening,” Wolff said last month.
“I would just like to put the puzzle together, it is not only about 2018. It is about looking forward in 2019 and 2020.”