After months of speculation and rumors that pointed toward Valtteri Bottas joining Mercedes, both parties have finally made it official.
With Bottas securing the seat alongside 3-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton, a new rivalry is born. The Hamilton/Nico Rosberg rivalry provided some exciting moments over the course of their time with Mercedes, peaking last season with various incidents and controversies building up to the final race of the season, where Nico finally got his championship and called it quits.
With the move confirmed, some questions have been raised as we approach the 2017 season. How will the new Mercedes rivalry compare to the last? Is Bottas ready to contend for a championship? How many times will they crash into each other?
Many F1 fans, myself included, see Bottas as one of the better drivers on the grid. After spending four seasons with Williams, claiming nine podiums and finishing 8th in the 2016 standings, the 27-year old will finally get a chance to race for a championship contender. And, unless Red Bull or Ferrari bring a powerhouse car to the 2017 lineup, the championship could very well come down to Hamilton vs. Bottas.
With this move, another piece of news was also announced by Williams, as Felipe Massa will officially be returning from (a very short) retirement to replace Bottas. This will mark Massa’s 14th season in Formula 1, and his 4th with Williams. Furthermore, Mercedes confirmed that reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein, who was previously considered for the Merc opening, will move from Manor to Sauber.
So with that, the 2017 field is nearly set:
- Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team
- 44- Lewis Hamilton
- 77- Valtteri Bottas (moving from Williams)
- Red Bull Racing
- 3- Daniel Ricciardo
- 33- Max Verstappen
- Scuderia Ferrari
- 5- Sebastian Vettel
- 7- Kimi Raikkonen
- Sahara Force India
- 11- Sergio Perez
- 31- Esteban Ocon (moving from Manor)
- Williams Martini Racing
- 19- Felipe Massa
- 18- Lance Stroll (Rookie)
- 14- Fernando Alonso
- 2- Stoffel Vandoorne (Rookie)
- Toro Rosso
- 55- Carlos Sainz, Jr.
- 26- Daniil Kvyat
- Haas F1 Team
- 8- Romain Grosjean
- 20- Kevin Magnussen (moving from Renault)
- Renault Sport F1
- 27- Nico Hulkenberg (moving from Force India)
- 30- Jolyon Palmer
- Sauber F1 Team
- 9- Marcus Ericsson
- 94- Pascal Wehrlein (moving from Manor)
- Manor Racing
While Manor’s future in Formula 1 in still up in the air, the remaining 10 teams have confirmed their lineups with just over a month to go before preseason testing. I’ll be back then with some 2017 predictions… and I’ll warn you now; so many hot takes. Be ready.