Valtteri Bottas lobbies for F1 championship, new contract after Russian victory
Valtteri Bottas’ hopes of securing a new Formula 1 contract with Mercedes contract beyond 2017 took a big step forward in Russia.
In his fourth race since switching from Williams to Mercedes, and amid reports he is a mere ‘No. 2’ driver, the Finn won at Sochi. And not only that, he also comprehensively outpaced his highly rated teammate Lewis Hamilton throughout the weekend.
“We need to find out why (Hamilton) was not happy with his car,” team chairman Niki Lauda said.
Additionally, team principal Toto Wolff said the broad reason for Mercedes’ on and off troubles so far in 2017 is the tires.
“It seems that Ferrari has a wider range of operating temperatures in the way they use the tires,” he said.
Lauda also believes that F1 has suddenly become a Ferrari dominated world.
“This was the 100 percent confirmation that Ferrari is the new benchmark,” Lauda said.
But also clear is that Bottas’ place on the team now seems more secure. Indeed, the Finn might now be thinking about a shot at the world championship.
“Who knows?” said Lauda. “He won one race, his first victory, so now we will see but I think the next ones are always easier for a driver.”
As for whether Bottas has now done enough to secure a contract extension for 2018, Wolff said it’s a premature conversation.
“I think to discuss his position in the team after a few races is foolish,” Wolff said. “He should be given some time, because in the junior categories he did excellent results, and there was never a season when he was at Williams where he failed to beat his teammate.
“Now he has become Lewis Hamilton’s teammate, he has a pole position and he won the race today.”
So for now, Wolff said he is happy with his choice about retired world champion Nico Rosberg’s 2017 replacement.
“This race showed that our decision for Valtteri was right,” he said. “Both Valtteri and Nico are very analytical, with a calm approach. But the balance between him and Lewis also works well, and this dynamic is part of the success.”