Bottas replaces Rosberg
MERCEDES have signed Valtteri Bottas, as the replacement for recently retired Formula One world champion Nico Rosberg, with Williams confirming the news in their own announcement that Felipe Massa has been persuaded to extend his career by one more season to replace the Finn.
Bottas had been the frontrunner to replace 2016 world champion Rosberg ever since the German announced his shock retirement in December last year. Mercedes on Monday finally confirmed that Bottas would partner Lewis Hamilton for the 2017 campaign.
Bottas has agreed a one-year contract with Mercedes with the possibility for an extension, while Rosberg will stay on with Mercedes in an ambassadorial role. With Bottas only tied down to the seat for 2017, the prospect of Mercedes launching a move for Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel remains very real, with the four-time world champion out of contract at the end of the year.
As part of the deal, Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff has had to end his role as Bottas’s manager due to conflict of interest, but the German was on hand to praise the Finn as he was presented at the team’s UK headquarters in Brackley.
“Valtteri is a no-nonsense guy, down to earth, straightforward and very focused. Pretty Finnish, to be honest, and a great fit for us.
“He has an impressive track record in the junior categories and nine podiums in F1. But now it’s time for the next level, to see how he can step up to challenge for race wins and for championships.
“We know that we are already behind the curve in terms of preparations for the new season, so we’ve got a busy programme to get him integrated into the team. One thing is for sure: as I know Valtteri, he will give it everything.”
Bottas has claimed nine podiums to date but is yet to secure his first Grand Prix victory, and he signalled his intention to stand on the top step of the podium in 2017 while helping the Silver Arrows to claim as many points as possible.
Rosberg’s departure means 35-year-old Massa will remain on the grid despite retiring from the sport after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November. “I certainly have not lost any of my enthusiasm for racing and I’m extremely motivated to be coming back to drive the FW40,” said Massa. – The Independent