BOTTAS LANDS MERCEDES F1 RACE SEAT
Finn to line up alongside Lewis
Valtteri Bottas was officially announced as a Mercedes driver on Monday at the team’s Brackley headquarters, after Williams drafted Felipe Massa back into F1.
Mercedes and Williams had been locked in months of negotiation over the services of Finnish ace Bottas, who will now move across to the Silver Arrows to partner three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.
Bottas, who was managed by Mercedes team head Toto Wolff, took some leveraging from Williams, with Mercedes’ technical director Paddy Lowe likely going the other way in a deal that is also thought to include a reduction in Williams’ engine bill.
After being unveiled as a Mercedes driver, Bottas said: “It’s an amazing day for me and I’ve been dreaming a long time to join a team like this, a team of champions. I’m so proud to be here, with a team with this sort of history.
“My goal is immediately in the first race to get all the points available that are absolutely possible from the car. I have faith in you [the engineers] that you will be building a good car.
“I guarantee I will be giving it my all. I appreciate this a lot. I wouldn’t miss this opportunity. I will do everything I can.
“It will be my biggest season in F1. I got nine podiums with Williams but I am still missing my first win, so that is the first mission. And we go from there.”
Bottas added that going head-to-head with Hamilton would be a challenge.
“I think with Lewis, we will be a strong pair together,” he said. “I really respect him as a driver and a person. He is so quick, everyone knows how quick he is, so he is a great reference for me as well. I am sure we will be close and we will be both pushing each other forward, but I am sure we can work together as a team, work together, to help the team as much as we can.”
Mercedes head Wolff added: “Valtteri has great attributes and he’s been very successful. He shares our passion and values. He’s modest and humble and hard working. He fits very well within our team and his heart is in the right place.”
To allow Bottas to leave, Williams had to tempt Massa back from retirement. The Grove team was originally offered the services of Mercedes junior Pascal Wehrlein in a trade for Bottas, but the team wanted an experienced racer to partner with F1 rookie Lance Stroll this year.
Massa said only Williams could have enticed him back. “I have a passion for racing, for competing and for fighting on the track,” Massa said.
“My return is not about seeing F1 as the best option, it’s about seeing my role at Williams as the best option for me. I would not have returned for any other team on the grid.
“I have a strong love for Williams as I have enjoyed three great years with this team, and therefore coming back to help give stability and experience to drive things forward in 2017 was something that felt right to do.”