Bot­tas re­places Ros­berg

The Star Early Edition - - MOTOR SPORT - MO­TOR­ING STAFF

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

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