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2018 F1

Mercedes to keep Hamilton and Bottas – Lauda

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Niki Lauda says he is confident Mercedes will head into 2019 with the same drivers.

Currently, talks with Lewis Hamilton have been delayed and there is speculation Valtteri Bottas might be replaced by Daniel Ricciardo, a Mercedes junior, or even Fernando Alonso.

But boss Toto Wolff played down the Alonso rumours.

“I think he’s a great driver,” he said, “and if the fallout of the previous relationship did not exist then I think he would have ten championships.”

Wolff may be referring to Alonso’s broken paddock relationships as a result of his previous stints at McLaren-Mercedes and Ferrari.

He explained: “F1 has become a game of relationships and a long-term strategy is needed. And I think Fernando may still be suffering from things that happened ten years ago, even if he is a different person now.”

Meanwhile, referring to Hamilton’s delayed contract, team chairman Lauda told Bild am Sonntag newspaper: “We have no time pressure. It will 110 per cent happen.

“We have agreed on everything, but whether he signs now or in three weeks doesn’t matter,” he added.

And when asked about Bottas’ similarly expiring contract, Lauda said: “In the last three races he was faster than Lewis.

“If you look at him objectively, he is doing really well. Rosberg-like,” he added.

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