ABU DHABI -- Toto Wolff thinks Valtteri Bottas can remind Mercedes why he deserves a deal beyond 2018 by converting pole into a victory at Yas Marina.
Bottas' form has recovered in recent races after a difficult second half of the season, which saw his performances drop shortly after his 2018 contract extension was confirmed. The Finn secured a second consecutive pole position in Abu Dhabi but has not won since the Austrian Grand Prix in July.
Speaking after the qualifying, Bottas said he was keen to avoid a repeat of the last race, where Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel beat him into Turn 1 and won the race. Mercedes boss Wolff thinks Bottas is back to the sort of level he was at before the summer break.
"We've never doubted Valtteri's raw speed," Wolff said. "You could see that again [in qualifying], the difficulties in the interaction with the tyres with the chassis and finding the optimum setup to have the tyrs in the sweet spot -- this is is something that has worked much better for Lewis albeit being very difficult. Valtteri has hit that sweet spot today.
"His confidence has been coming back in the last races and we saw a really good great qualifying in Brazil and a great qualifying today. But, the start was certainly something that he would be eating him up. The tricky bit is we don't really see in the rear mirrors so he struggled to understand where Sebastian was and he didn't want to take any risks, maybe tomorrow is going to be a different story."
Bottas' seat and future is likely to be a point of interest next season, with the likes of Daniel Ricciardo and impressive Mercedes junior Esteban Ocon set to be on the market for 2019. Wolff says Bottas will make the decision very straightforward if he can continue his current form into next season.
"We haven't started 2018 [negotiations] yet. I think it's important to see that he continues what he has done in the first half of the year, what we have seen in Brazil and what we have seen today, and then it's a no brainer. We like working with Valtteri and with Lewis, the two fit well together, they have a good dynamic in the team and see no reason to change it if we continue on from where we are today."