It has been an extremely busy day for Formula One as we finally know what the grid will look like at the Australian Grand Prix in March. This morning the Sauber F1 Team confirmed that Pascal Wehrlein has joined the outfit.
This afternoon the big news broke, first came the news from Williams Martini Racing confirming that Felipe Massa is returning to the team on a one year contract replacing Valtteri Bottas.
Shortly after the Williams announcement came news from Mercedes that Valtteri Bottas has signed a one year contract to replace world champion Nico Rosberg as Lewis Hamilton’s team mate. Speaking about Bottas’ arrival at Brackley, Head of Mercedes Benz Motorsport Toto Wolff commented by saying:
Sometimes in life, unexpected circumstances provide interesting opportunities. 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. Valtteri is a no-nonsense guy: down to earth, straightforward and very focused. Pretty Finnish, to be honest, and a great fit for us. He has an impressive track record in the junior categories and nine podiums in F1. But now it’s time for the next level, to see how he can step up to challenge for race wins and for Championships. We know that we are already behind the curve in terms of preparations for the new season, so we’ve got a busy programme to get him integrated into the team. One thing is for sure: as I know Valtteri, he will give it everything.
Valtteri Bottas came up the ranks of the Williams F1 Team through their driver programme and was promoted to a race from test driver in 2013 having joined the outfit as a test driver in 2010.
Speaking about his team, the Finn stated:
It’s very exciting times for me. “I think it’s going to take a while to understand that this is really happening. It’s definitely another dream come true, to race in another team with such great history – especially in the recent years, which have been so impressive. I’m really proud to become a part of that and grateful to everyone at Mercedes for trusting my skills and giving me this opportunity.
“I’ve had a really warm welcome so far. Of course, I have a lot more people to meet and new faces to remember. But initially everything has felt very good. I’m really impressed with the facilities and I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone better. My first experience with Mercedes power was in F3 back in 2009 and, of course, I know the Power Unit well from the last three years with Williams. But there are a lot of new things to learn with the car and also with how the team operates at the factory, in testing and at the races.
Wolff went on to say:
We have confidence in Valtteri’s ability and it’s one of the reasons that he is the driver we set our sights on this winter. “The next weeks will be busy as we work to build relationships so Valtteri understands the team and the car. But that’s an exciting challenge that will bring us fresh energy and a new dynamic between the drivers. And, of course, we’re working hard to give Lewis and Valtteri the car they need to do the job.
Bottas is under no illusions of the task ahead of him saying:
I’m ready to work hard, to prove myself to the team and to prove my skills. It’s going to be a challenging season and joining a new team makes it more work than normal. But I’m 100% ready for that. I’m training hard to be at my physical best because it will be much tougher with these new cars. I always set the bar really high, so my target is to perform from the first race. I’m full of energy and ready to get to work for this year and hopefully many more to come with Mercedes.
Wolff concluded by saying:
On behalf of Mercedes, I must thank Williams for their cooperation in allowing Valtteri to make this move – and also Monisha and Sauber for their patience during the past weeks. “It’s been a busy day in the driver market and I am pleased to know that Pascal will be racing at Sauber to continue his development in F1. He had a good first season with Manor and we feel this is the right path for him in the sport. It’s satisfying to have both of our Young Drivers taking on new challenges in F1 this year, with Esteban also racing at Force India. We’ll be following their progress closely; I’m sure we’ve got an exciting season ahead of us.