JANUARY 17, 2017

One year deal for Bottas strange says Salo

Valtteri Bottas' one-year contract to drive for Mercedes in 2017 is "really strange".

Valtteri Bottas' one-year contract to drive for Mercedes in 2017 is really strange.

That is the view of Mika Salo, a fellow Finn and former F1 driver.

Bottas' switch from Williams to replace the suddenly-retired reigning world champion Nico Rosberg at Mercedes was finally unveiled on Monday.

But sources quickly reported that the deal is actually for one year only, including a mere 'option' for 2018.

"It is a strange solution, really strange," former Sauber and Ferrari driver Salo told the Finnish broadcaster MTV.

"I don't know what's behind it. One year contracts are quite rare nowadays. Perhaps Mercedes wants to check that Valtteri does the job as he should," he added.

One interpretation is that Mercedes wants to keep the door open for 2018, when talents like Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso may be available.

But at the same time, Salo also said Bottas' Mercedes deal is great news.

"He has a winning car and the possibilities are endless," he said. "Everybody can see that Valtteri was the best choice for that job."

But when speaking with Ilta Sanomat newspaper, Salo said facing up against triple world champion Lewis Hamilton will be a tough task for Bottas.

"It is not an easy place to be," he said. "Lewis has been with his team for a long time, while Valtteri has been with his team his whole career and now has to learn how they (Mercedes) do everything.

"He has a car to fight for the world championship, but then he would have to beat Hamilton. It's really not easy," Salo insisted.