Valtteri Bottas has been retained as a Mercedes driver for the 2020 season, while the team’s reserve driver Esteban Ocon is is set to join Renault.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said at the Hungarian Grand Prix that he would use the summer break to choose between Ocon and Bottas as teammate to Lewis Hamilton next season, following two poor races for the Finn. However, with Bottas currently second in the drivers’ championship and Mercedes 150 points clear in the constructors’, the team has opted to retain its current lineup.
“I am very happy and proud to be part of the team for a fourth season and wish to thank every team member and the board of Mercedes for their trust and belief in me,” Bottas said. “My performances have been getting better and better each year, and this is a great way to kick start the second half of 2019.
“My overall target is to become Formula 1 world champion. I believe that on paper, and from my experience with the team, Mercedes is the best option for me to achieve that goal in 2020.
“We have nine races to go this season and I am determined to keep improving at every one of them. Now, all my thoughts are on Spa and delivering a strong performance with the team this weekend.”
Mercedes has exercised its option to keep Bottas for a further season — with only 2020 confirmed — and Wolff says he has been impressed with the Finn’s improvement rate when he made a strong start to this season.
“For 2019, we set Valtteri the challenge of coming back even stronger than we saw him in the first part of 2018 =- and he has achieved that, with some really impressive performances in the early races this year,” Wolff said.
“Although it has been his most successful first half of a championship so far, he is hungry for more and determined to keep on improving and raising his level. That’s the mindset we want from all our team members.
“The results we have achieved together with Valtteri are no coincidence: he has been an integral part of our championship success in the past two seasons, his teamwork with Lewis has been exemplary and he has shown real strength of character in how he has responded to setbacks.
“I’m delighted that he will stay with the team for another season at least – and look forward to seeing him raise the bar even further.”
The move opens the door for Ocon to join Renault in place of Nico Hulkenberg, with Wolff stating he would help facilitate an F1 seat for the Frenchman.