Last pieces of 2017 puzzle in place

Tue, 17 January 2017, 09:35

Jan.17 (GMM) The last major pieces of the 2017 grid have fallen into place.

Mercedes announced that Valtteri Bottas is joining the reigning world champions, Williams said Felipe Massa will replace the Finn, while the Mercedes junior Pascal Wehrlein’s Sauber deal was also unveiled.

“I must thank Williams for their cooperation in allowing Valtteri to make this move — and also Monisha (Kaltenborn) and Sauber for their patience during the past weeks,” said Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.

It also emerges that Wolff has ended his management relationship with Bottas to avoid any conflict of interest, while world champion Rosberg will work as a Mercedes ambassador in 2017.

“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,” said Wolff, referring to Bottas.

For his part, 27-year-old Bottas said he is looking forward to being triple world champion Lewis Hamilton’s teammate, and expects “no issues” between them.

He is also targeting the 2017 title.

“Being in this kind of team, you can’t target anything else,” said the Finn.

As for Massa, the Brazilian had actually retired at the end of last season, so he played down any suggestion his heart might not be in it in 2017.

“I would not have returned for any other team,” said the 35-year-old.

Massa told Brazil’s Globo: “I got a call from Claire Williams asking if I would stay at Williams.

“Since I said that I was leaving F1 only because I did not have a good team, and Claire’s invitation was a change in that scenario, it was not difficult to come to terms.”

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