Toto Wolff has challenged Valtteri Bottas to reach the next level after the Finn was confirmed as Nico Rosberg’s replacement at Mercedes.
Rosberg surprisingly announced his decision to retire from Formula One last month, just five days after winning his maiden world title, leaving Mercedes scrambling to find a replacement.
Bottas swiftly emerged as the favourite to fill the vacancy and his move from Williams was finally made official on Monday, although details on the length of his contract have yet to be announced.
The Finn has achieved nine career podiums in F1, but has yet to stand on the top step. However, Mercedes boss Wolff is confident Bottas has the talent to start winning races.
“Valtteri is a no-nonsense guy, down to earth, straight-forward and very focused. Pretty Finnish, to be honest, and a great fit for us,” Wolff said in a statement from Mercedes.
“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.”
— Valtteri Bottas (@ValtteriBottas) January 16, 2017
New aerodynamic rule changes from the coming season means there is a certain amount of uncertainty in F1 in 2017 after three years of Mercedes dominance.
But Wolff is confident Mercedes will produce a car that will continue to compete, while backing the new line-up of Bottas and three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton to produce the goods on the track.
“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 [Bottas] integrated into the team. One thing is for sure – as I know Valtteri, he will give it everything,” Wolff added.
“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.
“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.”