Formula One championship leader Nico Rosberg has signed a multi-year contract extension with Mercedes ahead of his home German Grand Prix at Hockenheim this weekend, the team said on Wednesday.
The deal was expected – and in fact widely assumed to have been done months ago with Mercedes saying back in May that they had long-term relationships with both Rosberg and team mate Lewis Hamilton.
Mercedes, who announced in 2011 an extension with Rosberg to include 2013 and beyond, said in a statement however that the driver’s latest contract was signed only on Monday.
“I’m looking forward to the next years together, when we will keep pushing to win even more races and, hopefully, championships,” said Rosberg, who joined Mercedes in 2010 from Williams.
The 29-year-old German – who celebrated his birthday on June 27 and also got married in Monaco last week – has won six races for the “Silver Arrows” and taken 17 podium finishes and eight pole positions.
With Sunday’s race at Hockenheim marking the half way point of the championship, Rosberg leads Hamilton by a mere four points.
Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff said Rosberg, son of Finland’s 1982 world champion Keke, had shown he was one of the top drivers in the sport.
“His speed, commitment and focus have all helped to give clear direction and to drive the team forward,” he said.
“This new contract brings us important stability and continuity for the future and I am delighted to be able to make the announcement in time for the home race of Mercedes-Benz and Nico in Hockenheim.”
Rosberg has never won in Germany – one of two “home” races for the German-born driver who has lived in Monaco for most of his life – but will be a favourite to do so on Sunday with Mercedes currently dominant in the championship.
If he does, he will be the first German to win his home grand prix in a German car since 1939.
The team have won eight of nine races so far and the title battle is a duel between the two Mercedes team mates who have raced against each other since their teenage years.
Hamilton, the 2008 champion with McLaren, is in his second season at Mercedes.