January 16, 2017 9:18:20 pm
Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas will race alongside three-time champion Lewis Hamilton at Formula One team Mercedes this season.
The 27-year-old Bottas will fill the seat left by world champion Nico Rosberg’s retirement.
With Bottas moving on, F1 team Williams said Monday that Felipe Massa will come out of retirement to race with them for a fourth consecutive season.
Rosberg retired only five days after beating Hamilton to his first world title in November. Mercedes also won its third straight constructors’ championship.
“Sometimes in life, unexpected circumstances provide interesting opportunities,” Mercedes head of motorsport Toto Wolff said in a statement. “Nico’s decision in December was a big surprise – 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.”
Bottas finished eighth in the drivers’ standings with 85 points last season. In four seasons with Williams, he started 77 races and achieved nine podium finishes. Wolff said it was time for him to step up to the next level and “how he can challenge for race wins and championships.”
“Valtteri is a no-nonsense guy: down to earth, straightforward and very focused,” Wolff said. “Pretty Finnish, to be honest, and a great fit for us.”
Massa will head back to Williams only a few months after retiring from Formula One. The Brazilian has agreed to a one-year deal and will race alongside F1 debutant Lance Stroll.
“I am very happy to have an opportunity to return to Williams. 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,” Massa said. “Valtteri has a great opportunity, given the turn of events over the winter, and I wish him all the best at Mercedes.”
Earlier, Mercedes’ young driver Pascal Wehrlein, who had been linked with replacing Rosberg, joined Swiss team Sauber.
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