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Lewis Hamilton will be happy to have Valtteri Bottas as his Mercedes teammate beyond 2018 in order to keep his position as the team’s unofficial number one, according to former Renault Formula 1 driver Jolyon Palmer.
The Finn, who joined from Williams prior to the start of the 2017 campaign, was impressive in his first season with the reigning champions, but was unable to challenge Hamilton consistently as he romped to his fourth world drivers’ championship.
Bottas won three races in his first season and is hoping to mount a more sustained challenge in 2018, which could go a long way in securing his future with Mercedes. The former Williams driver’s contract expires at the end of the upcoming campaign, and his performance will determine whether he remains a Mercedes driver in 2019.
Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo is an option for the Silver Arrows team as the Australian’s contract is coming to an end with the four-time world champions and he is yet to agree a new deal. Mercedes could make a move to secure his services, but the reigning champions’ motorsport boss Toto Wolff has vowed to give Bottas a fair chance to fight for his place.
Palmer, however, believes Hamilton will want Bottas as his teammate, as he will want to keep his place as the team’s unofficial number one. Similar to Ferrari, where Sebastian Vettel has backed Kimi Raikkonen to be retained by the Italian team as he has not been challenged consistently by the Finn.
“I think he’ll be very happy with it,” Palmer said on BBC Radio 5 Live, as quoted on Planet F1. “It’s a very similar situation to what we’ve got at Ferrari where Sebastian Vettel is kind of the No 1 driver, whether officially or not, and he’s voiced his support for Kimi Raikkonen to stay there.”
“When you have a situation like this in the team, you have one guy that is the No 1 then they don’t want the second guy to be as quick, it’s natural.
“He’s a competitor and he can also be helpful in a title run-in,” the former Renault driver explained.
Hamilton, meanwhile, is also out of contract with Mercedes at the end of the season but both the driver and the team have confirmed that they are close to reaching a conclusion. The four-time champion is expected to sign a new long-term deal to remain with the Brackley-based team for the foreseeable future.
The Briton revealed during the Mercedes W09 car launch about talks between him and Wolff and made it clear that they are committed to each other and not looking at other options.
"I have spoken with [Mercedes executive director] Toto Wolff, and we spoke about how we are committed to each other,” Hamilton said during Mercedes’ 2018 car launch, as quoted by the Independent.
"I know there's no one else better and Toto knows there's no one else better than me, so he is not looking anywhere else. It is just the details, so hopefully it's done before the start of the season, before the first race, but there's no rush, and no panic.”
Source : https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/motorsports/lewis-hamilton-and-valtteri-bottas-yet-to-agree-new-mercedes-contract/ar-BBK7pDR