Valtteri Bottas remains uncertain about his Mercedes future

BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) Formula One driver Valtteri Bottas is uncertain about his future with the Mercedes team despite a strong start to the season.

Bottas was drafted in from Williams on a one-year deal as an emergency replacement for Nico Rosberg after the German driver retired days after winning the title last year.

Bottas has won one race, secured three other podium finishes and a pole position so far. He is third in the title race, where he has also provided valuable support for teammate Lewis Hamilton.

But that does not necessarily guarantee a new contract.

''I don't know when I will know. For sure discussions will be opened soon, because as a driver at some point it's always nice to know what you are going to do,'' Bottas said Thursday. ''I'm keen to have a long-term relationship with Mercedes and that is my target.''

The 27-year-old Finnish driver is known for his calm demeanor and appears to be taking the issue of his future in his stride.

''I feel normal,'' he said. ''Because every year in Formula One I've had no idea at this point what it's going to be like next year.''

Bottas said he is not in discussions with other teams.

Asked if, given the choice, he would re-sign, he laughed and said: ''Yeah, of course.''

Hamilton, who is chasing a fourth F1 title, thinks he should stay.

''I think he deserves it. He's earned his place long term,'' Hamilton said. ''He'll go from strength to strength, he just needs the opportunity.''

Hamilton endured a tough relationship with Rosberg in the past three seasons, with the pair feuding and trading barbs.

The British driver openly prefers working with Bottas.

''Valtteri's energy has helped to create great harmony. At the factory he brings great energy,'' Hamilton said. ''They (the engineers) love that they have two drivers that they truly believe in and they know that, when they put their work in, both of us are going to deliver.''

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