Toto Wolff says Valtteri Bottas’s integration into the Mecedes set-up has exceeded expectations in 2017 and made the decision to hand the Finnish driver a one-year contract extension a simple one.

Bottas became Nico Rosberg’s late replacement after the German driver shocked F1 by retiring just days after securing his maiden world title at the end of last year. The Finnish driver has gone on to take his maiden two race wins, plus two pole positions, with nine podiums in total equalling his career haul before joining Mercedes.

While Mercedes boss Wolff and Bottas both seemed assured a deal would be signed during the summer break the Belgian and Italian races went by without any announcement but in the build-up to the Singapore race the Finn’s future has been secured with a one-year extension.

Wolff, who was Bottas’s manager during his stint with Williams, says the Finnish driver has exceeded initial targets and his ‘chemistry and dynamic’ with team-mate Lewis Hamilton made it an easy selection for Mercedes.

"We gave Valtteri a big challenge this year: joining the team at the eleventh hour, stepping up to the forefront of F1 and pairing with the sport's best driver as his team-mate,” Wolff said. “With that in mind, his results have been probably even more impressive.  

"There have been ups and downs - more ups, fewer downs - and some great highlights like his two race wins in Russian and Austria. Overall, the balance of his performances and his upward trajectory made it a no-brainer for us to continue with him into 2018.

"For our team, the bonus factors are the respect and sportsmanship that have grown between our two drivers. The chemistry and dynamic between Valtteri and Lewis work and are what we need to take the fight to our competitors."

With Bottas signed for 2018 alongside Hamilton it sees the top three teams - Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull - all with contracted drivers for next season. Of those drivers, Bottas and Hamilton at Mercedes and Raikkonen at Ferrari will be out of contract at the end of next year while Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo are believed to have contract clauses which can be triggered at Red Bull.



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