Formula One championship leader Nico Rosberg has signed a new contract that will keep him at Mercedes with Lewis Hamilton until the end of the 2018 season, the team said on Friday.
The team tweeted a video of the 31-year-old, runner up to Briton Hamilton in the championship for the last two years, signing the contract to race for the team in the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
“Special moment for me, of course, this moment of signing that piece of paper,” Rosberg said in a second video posted on social media by Mercedes.
“I look forward to the future of course.”
There was no immediate comment from Rosberg on Friday as the German warmed up for the opening practice session for Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
“We are delighted to announce that the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team has signed a two-year contract extension with Nico Rosberg for the 2017 and 2018 Formula One seasons,” Mercedes said in a statement.
“Nico has been a core member of the Silver Arrows since the team returned to the sport in 2010 and has played a crucial role in the team’s success in that time.”
Rosberg joined Mercedes from Williams in 2010 when the German marque returned to the sport as a full works outfit, and has helped the team to two constructors’ triumphs with 19 victories, including five this year.
Triple world champion Hamilton signed a three-year deal with the team through to the end of the 2018 season in May last year.
“We are very happy, we had a couple of weeks of discussions,” Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said in a video. “It was always clear we wanted to continue, Nico is the real deal for us.”
Rosberg and Hamilton have been the only two realistic championship contenders as Mercedes have dominated Formula One since the start of the V6 turbo-hybrid era in 2014.
The pair have often exasperated team-bosses with their on-track rivalry, most recently after they collided on the last lap of the Austrian Grand Prix while fighting for the lead, their third collision in five races that prompted Mercedes to put stricter deterrents in place.
Rosberg holds a one-point lead over Hamilton in the drivers’ standings heading into this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, down from an imposing 43 points in May.
Rosberg’s confirmation at Mercedes puts speculation surrounding his future to bed and locks down another seat with a top team after Ferrari renewed its contract with Kimi Raikkonen at the last race in Britain.
Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen also recently put pen to paper on long-term contracts with Red Bull.
Rosberg’s new deal also means Red Bull team principal Christian Horner’s prediction that Sebastian Vettel would move to Mercedes from Ferrari in 2018 is also unlikely to materialise.
Williams now hold the most attractive seats on the driver market with the spotlight on the future of McLaren’s Jenson Button.