F1: Williams rebuff Mercedes' first move for Bottas

Valtteri Bottas was reported as Mercedes' first choice to be Lewis Hamilton's partner next year.
Valtteri Bottas was reported as Mercedes' first choice to be Lewis Hamilton's partner next year.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON • British Formula One team Williams have confirmed that they have rejected an initial offer from Mercedes for Valtteri Bottas to replace the newly retired Nico Rosberg, according to BBC Sport.

Finn Bottas was reported as Mercedes' first choice to be Lewis Hamilton's partner next year, and Mercedes head of motorsport Toto Wolff is believed to have approached Williams.

It is said Mercedes proposed a more than 50 per cent discount on Williams' engine deal in exchange for Bottas, who is also in part managed by Wolff.

Williams were also given the option of Mercedes reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein to replace Bottas.

They have said no to Wolff's first offer but negotiations are expected to carry on in the next few days.

Hamilton and Wolff, amid the search for Rosberg's replacement, have declared that their partnership will be stronger than ever next year at Mercedes.

The duo seemed to be at odds at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as Hamilton defied team orders in his bid to snatch the drivers' title off Rosberg .

 
 
 

But following the German's retirement, Mercedes have been forced into focusing on ironing out issues with Hamilton.

In two short videos posted by the Briton on Instagram on Sunday, the 31-year-old revealed he held a meeting in Wolff's kitchen, where the pair are seen sitting alongside each other.

"We just had an amazing meeting," Hamilton said. "I just wanted to send on a message to let you know we are going to be the strongest partnership next year and we look forward to fighting for this championship again."

Wolff, who said on Friday that in hindsight Mercedes should have let the two drivers race "in the way they deemed to be appropriate" in Abu Dhabi, also wants to put the controversy behind them.

"We spent a good couple of hours together," the Austrian said. "We had a really fantastic meeting and we will be coming back so strong in 2017."

Mercedes could, however, be without their technical director Paddy Lowe for next season with the 54-year-old linked with a return to Williams.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 13, 2016, with the headline 'Williams rebuff Mercedes' first move for Bottas'. Print Edition | Subscribe