Anton Andres / Valterri Bottas | January 03, 2017 14:36
Williams F1 driver seen visiting Mercedes-AMG factory before Christmas
Following Nico Rosberg's shock announcement, the Mercedes-AMG F1 team is scrambling to find a new driver to fill in the second car. Since the 2016 champion's retirement, a roster of drivers have been rumored to join the Mercedes-AMG team, including Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and junior drivers.
Just before Christmas, Williams F1 driver Valtteri Bottas was seen visiting the Mercedes-AMG camp, suggesting that he will be alongside Lewis Hamilton for the 2017 season. Insiders report that Bottas visited the plant to have his seat done, technical preparations and speaking to engineers. It was also reported that Mercedes-AMG was set to make their announcement within this week. Before Bottas, another driver tipped to replace Rosberg was Pascal Wehrlein from Manor. Wehrlein is currently under the Mercedes-AMG Junior Driver program but the team has since said that he will not be chosen as Hamilton's team mate.
Over at Williams, the team said that they are only willing to let Bottas jump to Mercedes if they can find a suitable replacement for the Finnish driver. Late last year, Felipe Massa announced his retirement from the sport but has accepted Williams' offer to race for one more season for the team. Since then, Bottas has been tipped to be Rosberg's replacement over at Mercedes-AMG. On top of that, Williams has also signed 18 year old rookie Lance Stoll to drive for the 2017 season.
Prior to this, Toto Wolff, executive director for Mercedes-AMG Formula 1, said he had three options for Rosberg's replacement. Wolff said that the first option is to find a number two driver to guarantee the team's constructors title defense next year. The second option is to hire a junior driver such as Pascal Wehrlein, currently under the team's junior driver program. The third, which Wolff says is his least preferred option, is to go for a top driver. It appears that Wolff will be going for the third option if Bottas does join the team by this year.