Mercedes-AMG F1 Announces Nico Rosberg’s Replacement
The fastest car on the grid changes hands.
Nico Rosberg’s sudden (and controversial) retirement last December sent his team scrambling. Nobody in the Mercedes-AMG camp, not even the boss, Toto Wolff, had any idea that the reigning F1 World Champion would be stepping away from the sport. Now, after six weeks of anticipation, the team has announced Rosberg’s replacement for this season: Valtteri Bottas.
The news, confirmed on Tuesday, isn’t a huge surprise, though Bottas’ signing was far from a sure thing. Pascal Wehrlein, who drove for Manor Racing last season, was also in the running. The promising 22-year-old won the DTM championship for Mercedes in 2015, and served as a test driver for the F1 team the past two years. But Wehrlein signed with Sauber earlier this week, clearing the way for Bottas, 27, to pair with Lewis Hamilton next season.
In succeeding Rosberg, Bottas becomes him an instant championship contender, inheriting the fastest car on the grid. He knows what to do with it, too—in three seasons driving for Williams, the Finn racked up 411 points, including 9 podiums and 46 top-tens. He has won both Formula Renault and GP3 titles, and, in 2014, finished fourth overall in the F1 driver’s standings, edging out the likes of Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso.
Williams would typically chase a rising young talent to replace Bottas. But the team already sold its second seat to teenager Lance Stroll last November. As a result, Williams elected on Tuesday to bring back the aging Felipe Massa, whose retirement at the end of last season freed up Stroll’s seat, to fill in for Bottas.
Making the dynamic even stranger, Williams swiped Mercedes-AMG engineering guru Paddy Lowe last week. The two teams also share engines.
Did Mercedes-AMG make the right move in picking up Bottas? Comments section below.