Mercedes AMG has confirmed that current Williams driver Valtteri Bottas will fill the seat of retired reigning champion Nico Rosberg in the 2017 Formula One World Championship. Rosberg stepped down at the end of the 2016 after scoring his first title.
Bottas will be teaming up with Lewis Hamilton who in 2017 will be chasing his fourth title. Bottas is certainly talented, having managed nine podium finishes in his four seasons with Williams.
The agreement for Bottas to join Mercedes has not happened in isolation. It’s also been confirmed that another up-and-coming driver, Pascal Wehrlein, formerly of struggling team Manor, will drive for Sauber in 2017. Wehrlein has close links with Mercedes and was rumored as a possibility for replacing Rosberg. He will now drive alongside Marcus Ericsson at Sauber.
Rosberg’s former seat is the most coveted in F1 given the dominance of the Mercedes team over the past three seasons. This dominance is expected to continue in 2017, though there’s the slight hiccup of the team’s Technical Director Paddy Lowe resigning earlier this month. Though it’s yet to be confirmed, it’s thought that Lowe might join Williams, which is using Mercedes engines.
Williams, meanwhile, has confirmed that Felipe Massa, who left the team at the end of 2016 to retire from F1, will continue to drive for the team in 2017. He will drive alongside his replacement Lance Stroll who is making his F1 debut in the new season.
Williams’ decision to call Massa out of retirement was likely taken so that the team has at least one experienced driver among its ranks. Massa is signed on for one more year at present.