Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff says the team will not make a decision on Valtteri Bottas’ future until August at the earliest.

The Finn has enjoyed his best season in F1 to date, winning two of the opening 10 races to sit second in the world championship standings at the half-way mark, 39 points behind Mercedes teammate and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton.

Last season, Mercedes announced Bottas had signed a one-year deal until the end of 2019, with the option to renew his contract for a further campaign to keep him at the German manufacturer until the end of 2020 - mirroring Hamilton’s current deal.

A tough winless 2018 season left question marks over Bottas’ future at the reigning world champion squad, but he has bounced back strongly this year to hit back at his critics and help Mercedes build a comfortable lead in both world championships.

Speaking at the German Grand Prix - the same race at which Hamilton and Bottas’ new deals were confirmed last year - Wolff said: "We want to end up the season before the summer shutdown in a good place with two solid performances at Hockenheim and Budapest and then spend some time thinking about the driver line-up for 2020 and beyond.

"I guess it is pretty unusual to announce drivers in July anyway. If you take all the time you can to properly assess the drivers then you can drag it into the winter like some other teams have. It was the standard in the past.

"For us it is not only about making the right decision next year but looking ahead. That is why we agreed to take the decision in August going forward but that doesn’t necessarily mean we will announce it in August."

The situation is complicated by Mercedes-backed driver Esteban Ocon, who has found himself without a drive this season after he lost his Racing Point seat to Lance Stroll, and a possible deal with Renault broke down after the French manufacturer opted to sign Daniel Ricciardo.

Mercedes is keen to keep the highly-rated Frenchman within its stable but with a lack of available seats on the grid, it has faced great difficulty in finding him a full-time drive.

When asked by Crash.net about its dilemna regarding Ocon, Wolff replied: "As we all know it was an unfortunate situation last year that Esteban fell between the chairs, he could have chosen between two seats but in the end nothing came out so from our perspective everybody knows about his driving capabilities.

"For Mercedes, Valtteri is showing some very strong performances that merit the seat but equally Esteban has shown in the past and is a great addition to the team."

With both Nico Hulkenberg and Romain Grosjean out of contract at the end of season, Ocon has found himself linked with Renault and Haas respectively for 2020.

 

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