(File pix) Finnish Formula One driver Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes AMG GP in his team's garage during the first free practice session at the Formula One circuit in Monza, Italy, 01 September 2017. The 2017 Formula One Grand Prix of Italy will take place on 03 September 2017. EPA

LONDON: Formula One team Mercedes confirmed on Wednesday that Valtteri Bottas has signed a new one-year deal and will remain Lewis Hamilton’s partner for the 2018 season.

Bottas, who replaced world champion Nico Rosberg at Mercedes following the German’s shock retirement, has won two races this year and heads into Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix third in the standings, 41 points adrift of championship leader Hamilton.

The 28-year-old Finn’s deal allows Mercedes to keep their options open, with Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen both contracted at Red Bull until the end of 2018.

Hamilton’s deal with Mercedes also expires at the end of next year, but the English driver is expected to sign a new long-term contract with the team.

Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda revealed he had spoken to Sebastian Vettel about the German’s future plans, but following the announcement of his new three-year extension with Ferrari last month, Bottas was always likely to be retained.

“We gave Valtteri a big challenge this year by joining the team at the 11th hour, stepping up to the forefront of F1 and pairing with the sport’s best driver as his teammate,” Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said

“With that in mind, his results have been probably even more impressive.”

Mercedes lead rivals Ferrari in the constructors’ championship by 62 points.

“I am honoured and proud to continue to work with Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport in 2018 and to remain part of the Mercedes family,” Bottas said.

“As a driver, I’ve been able to learn and grow massively, and we have already enjoyed some really good moments this season that I will never forget,” he added. --AFP

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