Valtteri Bottas has landed the prized seat at Mercedes for 2017 which was left vacant by outgoing world champion Nico Rosberg.
Bottas will partner three-times world champion Lewis Hamilton at the team. The 27-year-old has started all 77 of his previous races with Williams and achieved nine podium finishes, all with Mercedes power.
“It’s very exciting times for me,” said Bottas. “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.”
Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff, who is part of Bottas’s management team, admitted the team had been stunned by Nico Rosberg’s decision to retire after winning the championship last year.
“Nico’s decision in December was a big surprise,” said Wolff, “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 programme to get him integrated into the team. One thing is for sure: as I know Valtteri, he will give it everything.”
Felipe Massa has returned from retirement to take over from Bottas at Williams.
“I’m delighted that Felipe has agreed to come out of retirement to be a part of our 2017 campaign,” said deputy team principal Claire Williams.
“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.”
See the updated list of 2017 F1 drivers and teams
2017 F1 season
- Stripping Verstappen of 2017 US podium was “one of the toughest decisions” – steward
- Sepang pays Haas compensation for Grosjean’s 2017 crash
- Williams revenues rose in 2017 after Bottas deal with Mercedes
- New kerbs at COTA in response to Verstappen’s corner-cutting
- Australian Grand Prix cost government £56 million last year