Can Valtteri Bottas keep his Mercedes ride?
Bottas must 'prove' he deserves Mercedes seat
- Kubica, Sirotkin to test with Williams
- Hamilton set to sign $159M contract with Mercedes
- Alonso: Abu Dhabi will be 'trickier' than Brazil
- '2018 will be even more difficult' – Lauda
Bottas must 'prove' he deserves Mercedes seat
(GMM) Valtteri Bottas has admitted he needs to again "prove" he deserves the Mercedes seat he occupies.
The Finn had a solid start to 2017 in retired Nico Rosberg's wake and was re-signed for 2018, but he slumped in the second half of the season.
"The season has been tough," Bottas admitted to The National, insisting that Mercedes was pushed hard by both Ferrari and Red Bull this year.
And with his teammate Lewis Hamilton winning nine races and the title, Bottas admitted his tally of two wins is not good enough.
"I was definitely hoping for more," he said, "but I am glad I have proven myself and the team signed me up again for next year.
"I couldn't beat him (Hamilton) this year but I am working on my weaknesses.
"Next year's going to be the same thing. I need to again prove if I am going to stay with the team for a long time."
But notwithstanding his resolve to improve, Bottas said he has always felt the support of the Mercedes team.
"I didn't have many issues with pressure as I felt the whole team was behind me," he said.
Kubica, Sirotkin to test with Williams
Williams F1 it will run Robert Kubica and Sergey Sirotkin for the Abu Dhabi Pirelli tyre test, alongside current race driver Lance Stroll.
The Pirelli tire test will take place over two days at the Yas Marina circuit during the week following the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
On day one Robert Kubica will drive the FW40 in the morning session, before Lance Stroll takes over in the afternoon. On day two Sergey Sirotkin will drive in the morning and afternoon sessions before handing over to Robert in the late afternoon.
The test is aimed at evaluating 2018 candidate tires on behalf of the Formula One tire supplier Pirelli.
Williams is excited to have this opportunity to assess the new tires across such an interesting range of drivers: Lance, as confirmed race driver for 2018, Robert with his huge experience, and Sergey as a very promising young talent in Formula One.
Hamilton set to sign $159M contract with Mercedes
|Hamilton can now afford an even bigger jet|
Mercedes will turn their attention to rubber stamping Lewis Hamilton’s new contract — worth around $159 million.
The four-time world champion will race in the season finale in Abu Dhabi this weekend where he is expected to hold talks with Merc’s bosses over his new deal.
Hamilton, 32, is expected to agree terms on the three-year package that will move him in line with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who has been the best-paid driver on the gird for the past two years.
Hamilton’s current deal expires at the end of 2018 but he wants to renegotiate terms while he is at the top of his game.
Mercedes are desperate to keep hold of their prized asset and do not want to risk losing him to rivals Ferrari or Red Bull.
The huge sum is expected to be worth almost $19,000 A DAY including bonuses to the Brit.
Hamilton was given a guard of honor when he arrived at the team’s Brackley HQ on Monday after clinching the title at the Mexico Grand Prix.
“It is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me — I’m blown away," Hamilton said.
“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone.
“I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me.
“This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had — that just makes it so much greater." Ben Hunt/The Sun/Fox
Alonso: Abu Dhabi will be 'trickier' than Brazil
|The Honda is getting stronger plus Abu Dhabi is far from a HP track|
Fernando Alonso expects this weekend's season finale in Abu Dhabi to be "trickier" for McLaren-Honda than the previous round in Brazil, where he scored points.
Alonso recorded back-to-back points finishes in Mexico City and Interlagos, splitting Mercedes-powered Felipe Massa and Sergio Pérez at the latter, after a close battle.
However, Alonso reckons the layout of the Yas Marina Circuit, which features two lengthy straights, will expose the team's package once more.
"Yas Marina Circuit is a trickier one for us than Brazil," said Alonso.
"We had an unexpectedly good result at Interlagos, but we're anticipating a tougher challenge in Abu Dhabi.
"Of course, the whole team wants to finish the season on a high, so we're working hard to extract every last bit of performance out of the MCL32.
"Qualifying is crucial on this track because overtaking is tricky, so it's important we get the set-up right as early as we can in the weekend."
McLaren chief Eric Boullier is keen for a standout result in what will mark McLaren-Honda's final race as a partnership, after three tough seasons.
"I know I can speak for the whole team when I say that each and every one of us embarks on our final Grand Prix weekend as McLaren-Honda in Abu Dhabi with both optimism and respect," he said.
"Every single person has worked incredibly hard over the past three years and remained committed through the highs and lows we've experienced together until the very last race.
"All of us will go into the weekend with exactly the same aim – to work hard and do everything we can to finish the season positively."
'2018 will be even more difficult' – Lauda
|Lauda made the claims at the Hamilton celebration held at the factory on Monday|
Niki Lauda has heaped praise on Mercedes for securing both world titles for a fourth successive season, though expects to be challenged further by rivals in 2018.
Mercedes wrapped up both 2017 championships early, securing the Constructors' crown at the United States Grand Prix, with Lewis Hamilton following suit a week later in Mexico.
However, Mercedes was pushed hard by Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari over the first half of the campaign, as the battle ebbed and flowed, before the Scuderia fell back amid a tough sequence of Asian races.
Given Ferrari's improved form, and Red Bull's in-season gains, Mercedes Non-Executive Chairman Lauda says he will take nothing for granted heading into 2018, despite enjoying the team's latest success.
"For the fourth time in a row, I'm in the fortunate position to say 'thank you' to the entire team," said Lauda, looking back on the season.
"2017 has been a challenging year because of the rule change. A rule change always means uncertainty; no one knows what the other guys are doing.
"We started with a difficult car, but the team was able to consistently improve it throughout the season, which was the key to winning the championships.
"The team did a fantastic job and Lewis did a fantastic job. I'm really proud of everyone, it's an incredible achievement.
"This year was the most difficult one so far and next year it will be even more difficult, but I trust the team 100 per cent!"
Hamilton received a guard of honor as he returned to the Mercedes factory in Brackley as a four-time champion on Monday and underlined staff efforts.
"This has been an incredible year, it's been an incredible journey together," commented Hamilton.
"There's a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone.
"I've been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me.
"Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100 per cent, which encourages me to bring my best performance.
"This is the best championship year, because we've been fighting another team and because we've had the difficulties and challenges we've had."