Formula One: Bottas joins Mercedes, Massa returns to F1 with Williams

Valtteri Bottas smiles during a news conference at the Shanghai International Circuit ahead of the Chinese F1 Grand Prix.
Valtteri Bottas smiles during a news conference at the Shanghai International Circuit ahead of the Chinese F1 Grand Prix.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Mercedes GP yesterday named Valtteri Bottas as the new partner for Lewis Hamilton for the 2017 season.

The 27-year-old Finn moves from Williams just a few weeks after Nico Rosberg sensationally retired after beating Hamilton to the 2016 title.

While Rosberg and Hamilton were arch-rivals, Bottas said at the team headquarters that he wants a good relationship with the Briton.

"I am sure we are going to be very close," he said. "I am sure we are going to work as a team."

The Finn has yet to win a grand prix in four seasons at Williams, making nine podium appearances, but he can expect to end that wait and step up as a title contender.

Brazilian Felipe Massa, who retired at the end of last season, has agreed a one-year contract to take the seat vacated by Bottas at Williams.

"Williams is pleased to confirm that Felipe Massa has agreed to re-join Williams on a one-year deal, coming out of retirement to replace Valtteri Bottas, whom the team has released to join Mercedes for the 2017 season," Williams said in a statement.

The 35-year-old Massa, an 11-time race winner with Ferrari and 2008 world championship runner-up, will partner 18-year-old Canadian rookie Lance Stroll.

Said the Brazilian, who made a tearful farewell to his home crowd last November at the season's penultimate race at Interlagos: "When I was offered the chance to help Williams with their 2017 Formula One campaign, it felt like the right thing to do. I certainly have not lost any of my enthusiasm for racing and I'm extremely motivated to be coming back to drive the FW40."

Williams deputy principal Claire Williams had said the team would not stand in Bottas' way if they could secure a suitable replacement.

Sauber had earlier set the merry-go-round in motion by announcing that German driver Pascal Wehrlein, who was the Mercedes reserve driver, would race for them this year.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 17, 2017, with the headline 'Bottas joins Mercedes, Massa returns to F1 with Williams'. Print Edition | Subscribe