Its Official, Valtteri Bottas to Partner Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes in 2017 Season

Valtteri Bottas has succeeded world champion Nico Rosberg as Lewis Hamilton’s team-mate at Mercedes.The move, expected since December, also sees Brazilian Felipe Massa come out of retirement to replace the 27-year-old Finn at Williams.

Mercedes’ young driver Pascal Wehrlein, passed over in favour of Bottas, joins the Swiss Sauber team.

Massa, 35, said he was “extremely motivated to be coming back” and Bottas had been given a “great opportunity”.

‘It felt like the right thing to do’

Massa announced his retirement at the end of last season but quit F1 only because he knew he was not wanted at Williams and there was no other good seat available to him.

A winner of 11 grands prix, he said: “Given the turn of events over the winter, I wish Valtteri all the best at Mercedes.

“In turn, when I was offered the chance to help Williams with their 2017 F1 campaign, it felt like the right thing to do.”

Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams said: “With Valtteri having a unique opportunity to join the constructors’ champions, we have been working hard to ensure that an agreement could be made with Mercedes.

“Felipe has always been a much-loved member of the Williams family, and having the opportunity to work with him again is something we all look forward to.

“He was always going to race somewhere in 2017, as he has not lost that competitive spirit, and it was important that we had a strong replacement in order for us to let Valtteri go.

“Felipe rejoining us provides stability, experience and talent to help lead us forward. He is a great asset for us.”

Massa, who has signed a one-year deal, is an experienced and known quantity for Williams, who needed a driver over 25 to partner the 18-year-old Canadian rookie Lance Stroll as a result of their title sponsor, drinks giant Martini.

Why did Mercedes not pick Wehrlein?

Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff negotiated a deal to release Bottas from Williams because he believed Wehrlein was not yet ready for promotion.

He turned to Sauber, who use engines from Mercedes’ rivals Ferrari, to find a seat for the German to continue his development in F1.

Wehrlein will partner Swede Marcus Ericsson in what will be his second season in the sport.

The 22-year-old drove for Manor in his debut season last year but the British team are in administration and their participation in F1 in 2017 is in serious doubt.

For Bottas, meanwhile, the move is the opportunity of a lifetime.

He has been in F1 for four seasons and has shown well at Williams alongside first Pastor Maldonado and then Massa.

His best results so far are two second places, at the British and German grands prix in 2014.

Wolff has said he will end his ties with the personal management of Bottas’ career now the driver is under his employment.

A boost for Sauber

Sauber team boss Monisha Kaltenborn said Wehrlein had shown “talent throughout his career”.

She added: “Last year, in his rookie Formula 1 season, he proved his potential by scoring one point in the Austrian Grand Prix.

“There is surely more to come from Pascal, and we want to give him the chance to further grow and learn at the pinnacle of motorsport.”

Wehrlein, whose move is likely to have been facilitated by financial support from Mercedes for Sauber, added: “It is a new challenge in a new team, and I am really excited and looking forward to this new adventure.

“Our objective is to establish ourselves in the midfield and to score points on a regular basis.”

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