Valtteri Bottas has been confirmed alongside Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes for the 2017 season.
The worst kept secret in motor sport today has finally be confirmed with the Finn’s arrival at the World Champions as replacement for outgoing champion Nico Rosberg. The move also sees Williams all but confirm as well that Felipe Massa will stay one more season with the team alongside rookie Lance Stroll. The details of the deal itself are still forthcoming but we now know the 27 year old Finn will be in the second seat alongside three time champion Hamilton.
The move was completely expected and was all but confirmed earlier today when Pascal Wehrlein was confirmed in the second seat at Sauber F1. Bottas was in contract with Williams and no news is available just now about compensation. We will have more news right here as it comes to us.
Part of the issue came about due to Williams being sponsored by Martini and would not wish to put another young driver in the car with an alcoholic sponsor on board. There was also the development side as well with an experienced driver will Massa able to help guide the team and the new driver Stroll during the first season since the regulation changes. Williams were unsure whether Massa would accept a return to the team after announcing retirement from F1 but after initial contact and a meeting the Brazilian veteran agreed to return.
“I am very happy to have an opportunity to return to Williams,” said Massa.
“I always intended to race somewhere in 2017, but Williams is a team close to my heart and I have respect for everything it is trying to achieve.
“Valtteri has a great opportunity, given the turn of events over the winter, and I wish him all the best at Mercedes.”
Willaims Deputy team principal Claire Williams said: “I’m delighted that Felipe has agreed to come out of retirement to be a part of our 2017 campaign.
“With Valtteri having a unique opportunity to join the current constructors’ champions, we have been working hard to ensure that an agreement could be made with Mercedes to give Valtteri this fantastic opportunity.
“Valtteri has been part of the Williams family since 2010 and in that time has proved a huge talent, securing nine podium finishes.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank him on behalf of the whole team, and wish him a successful season as he joins Mercedes.”
Reduced engine rental rates from Mercedes is expected to be a major part of the compensation package to Williams with Bottas leaving his current contract. The Finn is seen as being fast and reliable and also less likely to rock the boat alongside Hamilton which should see a more harmonious Mercedes team moving forward. With Bottas in the prime of his career it will be interesting to see how he goes in what is likely to be one of, if not, the fastest car on the grid as well as how he will match up to Hamilton as well. Winter testing starts at the end of February and will see the world gets it first inital indication as to how Bottas is settling in and how quick he is likely to be.