• IN WORDS: I'm Really Proud to be Part of this Team - Valtteri

Catching up with Valtteri on a big day for the fast Finn...

His first taste of the German Grand Prix as a Mercedes driver, a new deal in his pocket... just a normal day at the office for Valtteri, right?

"New contract and driving a Formula One car at Hockenheim... it could be worse!" joked the Finn.

 "It's nice that it's now official. Never in my career so far I have known at this point already for next year, so that's positive.

"I felt like a small amount of pressure went off my shoulders. I didn't want to think about it but now it is a good situation for us as a team.

"We can now focus on the rest of the year. It is going to be a tough battle between two, maybe even three teams. We need to stay focused and need to keep pushing."

So, what does it mean to Valtteri announce to the world that he'll remain with the team for at least another year? And what was it like negotiating his new deal?

"It meant a lot to me that the team opted for me and no-one else," he smiled. "Everyone wants to be in this seat - I think this is the most wanted seat in the paddock. I'm really proud to be part of this team.

"It was pretty straight forward. We already had kind of a plan for the future. We seriously spoke about the contract for the first team in Silverstone - it's not that far ago. Now we are here. It was pretty easy.

With both Mercedes seats now confirmed for the 2019 season, Valtteri knows his counterpart will once again take the form of four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton. But where some might be intimidated, the Finn is relishing pitting his skills against one of the best in the business.

"It pushes me a lot forward," he continued. "I'm happy Lewis is staying with the team. I think it's good for me as well. It will still be tough to beat him but that will be the target for me.

"For our team, for me, for Lewis it is very good situation knowing that we're both going to be here next year. Working hard together for all of our benefit. As before we are on equal terms, which is obviously good.

"Everyone in the team knows that both drivers will be here next year. So we can really work together and work our best. It definitely gives confidence."