Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team announced that Valtteri Bottas will be remaining with the team for the 2021 Formula One World Championship season, thus removing himself from the Silly Season equation and completing half of Mercedes’ two-car lineup for next season.
Bottas, a native from Nastola, Finland, has been racing for Mercedes in Formula One since 2017, when he joined the organization following the surprising retirement of Nico Rosberg, who had just won the 2016 F1 World Championship. Following the first three races into the 2017 season, Bottas notched his first F1 career win and first with Mercedes in the Russian Grand Prix in April. Since then, through August 2020, Bottas has won eight career races while achieving 39 podium results and 60 top-10 results. Last season, he finished a career-best second place in the championship standings.
This season, Bottas won the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring in July. He recorded podium results for the following Grand Prix events at Spielberg, Austria, and at Mogyoród, Hungary. Last weekend, at the British Grand Prix in Silverstone, United Kingdom, he finished 11th after suffering a tire puncture in the final laps. He is ranked in second place in the Drivers’ standings and is 30 points behind teammate Lewis Hamilton, the reigning six-time Formula One champion who has won the previous three races of this season.
“I’m very happy to stay with Mercedes in 2021 and build on the success we’ve enjoyed together already,” said Bottas. “Thank you to everyone in the team and the wider Mercedes family for their continued support and their trust in me. I’m very proud to represent this great team and the three-pointed star on our journey together again next year. 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.”
“We are very excited that Valtteri will stay with the team for at least one more season,” Toto Wolff, Mercedes Team Principal, added. “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.”
The confirmation of Bottas remaining with Mercedes for another season completes another puzzle piece to the 2021 Formula One driver-team lineup, with many big names still uncertain about their racing plans beyond this season. It all started back in May, when Scuderia Ferrari announced that four-time Formula One World champion Sebastian Vettel will be departing the team at the conclusion of this season. A few days later, Carlos Sainz Jr., currently driving for the McLaren F1 Team, was named a Ferrari competitor on a two-year basis, where he will be a teammate to Charles Leclerc next season. At the same time, Daniel Ricciardo was announced as Sainz’s replacement, where he will be a McLaren teammate to Lando Norris next season. Perhaps, the biggest news came in July, when Fernando Alonso, two-time Formula One World champion who retired from racing in F1 following the 2018 season, announced that he will be returning to the sport next season and drive for the Renault DP World F1 Team alongside Esteban Ocon. In mid-July, the Williams-Mercedes team announced that they will retain their current driver lineup for next season, featuring Nicholas Latifi and George Russell.
Among the current competitors who have yet to announce their racing plans for 2021 and beyond include Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Räikkönen, Alexander Albon, Pierre Gasly, Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen. Another name who is in talks about returning to full-time Formula One racing next season is Nico Hülkenberg, who had a short stint at the British Grand Prix in filling in the BWT Racing Point F1 Team car driven by Sergio Perez, who was absent due to being tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently awaiting his next negative test result of the virus to return to racing.
The 2020 Formula One World Championship season will resume on August 9 at the United Kingdom’s Silverstone Circuit for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.