Despite a binding contract with Williams, Valtteri Bottas lost no time in courting Mercedes for the plum drive given up by Nico Rosberg.
In a speech to Mercedes’ workforce in Brackley last December following the reigning world champion’s retirement, Toto Wolff said that with the exception of Kimi Raikkonen and Daniil Kvyatthat, almost every driver on the F1 grid had contacted him about the drive!
Valtteri Bottas was one of them.
“I called, it was the same day when Nico stepped down,” the Finn told Auto, Motor und Sport.
“As a racing driver, you always want to sit in the very best car. I’ve made it clear to Mercedes that I want to win races and become world champion.”
There’s no doubt of Bottas’ commitment and intent, but with a three-time world champion of the likes of Lewis Hamilton sitting on the other side of the garage, winning – let alone winning the title – is a very tall order.
“It’s a huge challenge for me. On the other hand, we also have a huge opportunity. I appreciate Lewis very high. I respect his achievements and his driving qualities. It will surely be a difficult year for me if I want success. ”
One aspect that could play into Bottas’ hands is the fact that Hamilton and himslef will be starting the season from ground zero, as neither will have a proper reference to rely on with a car designed around a whole new set of regulations.
“If I had come to Mercedes in 2016, it would have been harder,” Bottas explained.
“It is good that it is new for all. The cars will be faster in the corners and will be different with the new tires.
“It is still an advantage to know the team and the systems within the team for a long time, and know how they work. I have to catch up. My learning curve will be great.”