By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
Mercedes has finally announced that Valtteri Bottas as its driver for the 2017 Formula 1 season alongside Lewis Hamilton.
Bottas replaces reigning world champion Nico Rosberg, who announced his shocking retirement just days after winning the title in a thriller in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The 27-year-old Finn emerged as the favorite to replace Rosberg, but with a contract in place at Williams for 2017 it meant Mercedes had to negotiate a deal with the Grove-based outfit to release him for the upcoming season.
It is a one-year deal for Bottas with the German team, who sees Massa officially re-join Williams Monday on another one-year deal to fill the vacated seat alongside incoming rookie Lance Stroll.
“It’s very exciting times for me,” Bottas said. “I think it’s going to take a while to understand that this is really happening. It’s definitely another dream come true, to race in another team with such great history – especially in the recent years, which have been so impressive.
“I’m really proud to become a part of that and grateful to everyone at Mercedes for trusting my skills and giving me this opportunity.
“I’ve had a really warm welcome so far. Of course, I have a lot more people to meet and new faces to remember. But initially everything has felt very good. I’m really impressed with the facilities and I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone better.
“My first experience with Mercedes power was in F3 back in 2009 and, of course, I know the Power Unit well from the last three years with Williams. But there are a lot of new things to learn with the car and also with how the team operates at the factory, in testing and at the races.”
Bottas entered F1 in 2013 with Williams, scoring nine podiums in 77 starts with a career best championship finish of fourth in 2014.
“Sometimes in life, unexpected circumstances provide interesting opportunities,” said Mercedes boss Toto Wolff. “Nico’s decision in December was a big surprise – certainly a challenging situation for the team to handle. But weathering the storm makes you more resilient and we see this as another opportunity for the team to grow.
“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 program to get him integrated into the team. One thing is for sure: as I know Valtteri, he will give it everything.”