Valtteri Bottas will line up alongside Lewis Hamilton at the Mercedes F1 team in 2017 after Williams agreed to release the Finn from his contract. Bottas’ place at Williams will be taken by Felipe Massa, who is to come out of retirement to re-join the team on a one-year deal.
“It’s mega to be driving a Silver Arrow this year,” said Bottas in an address to the workforce at Mercedes’ UK factory in Brackley. “I can’t wait to get working properly.
“My goal is immediately at the first race to get all the points that are available. I guarantee I will be giving it all.
“I want to thanks Toto [Wolff, Mercedes-Benz head of motor sport] and everyone at the Mercedes and Daimler boards for this opportunity.
“This is my fifth season in F1. I got nine podiums with Williams, but I’m still missing my first win, so that’s my first mission.”
On lining up alongside three-time world champion Hamilton, the Finn added: “I think with Lewis we are going to be a strong pair together. I really respect him as a driver and a person.
“I’m sure we are going to close, and we’re going to be both pushing each forward. I’m sure we can work as a team.”
Wolff said Bottas was the ideal candidate to replace outgoing world champion Nico Rosberg.
“I think Valtteri fits very well in our team, as a driver he’s very fast, and he has also the heart in the right place,” he said.
“He shares our values and passion,” Wolff added. “He’s modest and humble and he’s hard working,” Wolff added.
15th F1 season for Massa
The announcement that Massa will come out of retirement to replace Bottas, which came on the same day as Mercedes protégé Pascal Wehrlein was confirmed at Sauber, means the Brazilian will race for Williams for a fourth consecutive season.
“Firstly, I am very happy to have an opportunity to return to Williams,” said the 35-year-old, who will partner with teenage rookie Lance Stroll this season.
“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,” Massa said.
Speaking about the moves, Claire Williams, Williams’ deputy team principal, 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.” F1.COM