Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff believes Valtteri Bottas has made significant improvements to his performances this season as he remains tight-lipped on the team’s 2020 driver plans.

Last year Bottas signed a one-year contract extension for the 2019 Formula 1 campaign with an option for an additional season in 2020 at Mercedes.

After his 2019 deal was confirmed during the German Grand Prix weekend, the Finn’s results tailed off towards the end of the season as Mercedes prioritised Hamilton in his F1 world title fight.

Having looked to reset over the winter and into pre-season, Bottas has either equalled or bettered his result at every race so far this season, with the sole exception of the Canada round, which has been him become the main title rival to Hamilton in 2019.

Mercedes boss Wolff pointed this out as a clear sign the Finn has “stepped up” both is performances and results, while he was unfortunate not to win the British Grand Prix after being caught out by an untimely Safety Car period which allowed Hamilton to capitalise.

“He outqualifies Lewis Hamilton for pole at Silverstone, he leads the race, he defends in a spectacular way, he changes position and loses the race because the safety car came out at the wrong moment for him,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1.

“It is tough but then both the two drivers would have fought to the end so that is important to acknowledge.

“He is not going to give up which is good. He has what he needs and at Silverstone racing him it shows how he has stepped up and that is really important for us as a team.”

Asked directly whether Bottas has done enough to secure the 2020 contract extension as part of the current deal, Wolff held back but signalled his support to the Finn by calling his Silverstone weekend his best of the season so far.

“I think he has made a good step,” he said. “That for me is his best race performance so far this season.”

Hamilton’s current Mercedes F1 deal expires at the end of 2020. Mercedes also has Esteban Ocon waiting in the wings as its reserve and third driver.



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