Nico Rosberg’s retirement created challenge and opportunity, says Wolff

Valtteri Bottas seen signing for his new ride at the Mercedes F1 team. (Photo: Mercedes)
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Toto Wolff says that Nico Rosberg’s unexpected retirement in December was challenging for the team, but it also created an opportunity as it allowed Mercedes to bring in a new driver.

Wolff has spent the past few weeks finalizing the deal to bring Bottas from Williams.

“Sometimes in life, unexpected circumstances provide interesting opportunities,” said Wolff. “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.”

Wolff is adamant that Bottas will be a good fit at his new team: “Valtteri is a no-nonsense guy: down to earth, straightforward and very focused. Pretty Finnish, to be honest, and a great fit for us. 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.

“We know that we are already behind the curve in terms of preparations for the new season, so we’ve got a busy program to get him integrated into the team. One thing is for sure: as I know Valtteri, he will give it everything.

“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.”

Wolff was also keen to thank Williams for releasing Bottas, and Sauber for waiting for confirmation of Pascal Wehrlein.

“On behalf of Mercedes, I must thank Williams for their cooperation in allowing Valtteri to make this move – and also Monisha and Sauber for their patience during the past weeks. t’s been a busy day in the driver market and I am pleased to know that Pascal will be racing at Sauber to continue his development in F1.

“He had a good first season with Manor and we feel this is the right path for him in the sport. It’s satisfying to have both of our Young Drivers taking on new challenges in F1 this year, with Esteban also racing at Force India. We’ll be following their progress closely; I’m sure we’ve got an exciting season ahead of us.”