Bottas signs for Mercedes Edit
The 2016 season had concluded with Mercedes taking their third successive World Constructors' Championship and Nico Rosberg whom had raced for the team since 2010 taking his first World Drivers' Championship. Mercedes for the third successive season had dominated the world championship, continuing their mastery of the V6 Turbocharged era.
The team, however, were not without weakness in 2016. Reliability had often been a huge concern throughout the season to which Toto Wolff admitted that Lewis Hamilton's engine failure in Malaysia had cost their champion of 2014 and 2015 a third successive title.
Hamilton whom continued to challenge Rosberg for the title until the very last race in Abu Dhabi. It was there the Mercedes duo saw another escalation of their infamous rivalry to which Hamilton whom was leading the race defied team orders in which he deliberately slowed and backed Rosberg into the path of Vettel and Verstappen in an attempt to push his teammate out of the podium position he needed to win the title.
Nonetheless, Rosberg maintained the second position he needed to win the title and therefore took his first World Championship Drivers' title and for the first time since the beginning of their partnership in 2013, Rosberg had defeated Hamilton in the championship standings.
Although there was much controversy surrounding Hamilton's tactical racing in Abu Dhabi, Toto Wolff admitted he was in "two minds" over Hamilton's defiance. Although he was attempting to compromise the best possible result for the team, Hamilton nonetheless was performing in the best way he could to defeat his one remaining championship rival.
However this controversy was quickly subdued when only three days after taking victory in the championship, Rosberg made a shock retirement announcement from Formula One. Although the news had taken the F1 media by storm, Hamilton expressed that he was "not surprised" by the decision. Toto Wolff meanwhile commended Rosberg for taking a "brave decision" in choosing not to defend his world title and leaving the sport at the peak of his success. Niki Lauda, however was less impressed to which he noted Rosberg's late decision retirement had put the team "under pressure" to find a quality driver to replace him before the new year. He was also not impressed on Rosberg's reasoning that the season being "stressful" was an acceptable reason to retire.
However although Mercedes were left under pressure to find a new driver, Lauda admitted they were not struggling for choice to which he admitted "I would say 90% have reported- 'we are here!'".
Christian Horner of Red Bull, however was quick to assert that Mercedes should not even think about poaching his drivers' as they were under contract. Likewise, Sebastian Vettel noted that both he and his Ferrari teammate, Kimi Räikkönen were under contract for 2017 and were not seeking the Mercedes drive.
The biggest name that was reportedly interested in the Mercedes drive was Hamilton's former McLaren teammate and double world champion, Fernando Alonso, to which Toto Wolff admitted the team were "considering" the Spaniard. However McLaren boss, Zak Brown reminded the media that Alonso remained locked under contract with the team for 2017. Alonso's manager, Flavio Briatore, thereafter shortly confirmed that Alonso would "honour" his contract with McLaren.
Instead, the most realistic candidates appeared to be that of Pascal Wehrlein and Valtteri Bottas. Wehrlein whom had his motor racing career nurtured by Mercedes as apart of their young driver programme was considered one of the more likely candidates. Wehrlein, the 2015 DTM champion had competed in his first Formula One season in 2016 with Manor and had served as the lead Mercedes test driver since 2014. He had most recently driven for Mercedes in the post-season Abu Dhabi Tyre Test for the 2017 season. He had replaced Lewis Hamilton whom was unwell for the test.
Wehrlein had been considered "Mercedes' only option" according to Sky commentator Martin Brundle, especially when his main rival for the seat, Valtteri Bottas was already under contract for the Williams team in 2017. However MTV commentator, Mika Salo was "pretty sure" that Bottas would be driving for Mercedes in 2017.
Bottas was notably apart of Toto Wolff's personal management team to which the Mercedes boss admitted that Bottas was a "very, very fast driver." However Wolff was also initially dismissive of the team signing him for 2017 to which he acknowledged Bottas's contract to Williams as well as noting that he was "very important" to their team.
Although their were reports that Williams had rejected an initial offer from Mercedes to buy Bottas out of his contract, Bottas himself remained silent over any prospects of joining the Mercedes team for 2017. Although Wehrlein was the logical choice for the team, there remained doubts of his overall capability, notably having been outpaced by new Manor teammate, Esteban Ocon through the end of the 2016 season. It was clear, Mercedes were focusing their efforts in negotiating with Williams over the status of Bottas's contract.
On the 15th December 2016, Mercedes announced they would not announce their new driver until the "New Year". However the same day, Williams admitted that they were seriously considering letting Bottas join Mercedes. Five days later there were reports that Felipe Massa had recanted his retirement decision and would be racing for Williams in the place of Bottas for the 2017 season. On the 16th January 2017 that Bottas was officially confirmed to be joining Mercedes as their new driver.
Team Personnel Edit
|Executive Director & Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport||Toto Wolff|
|Managing Director of Mercedes AMG High Performance Power Trains||Andy Cowell|
|Technical Director||James Allison|
|Chief Operating Officer||Rob Thomas|
|Managing Director||Aldo Costa|
|Performance Director||Mark Ellis|
|Director of Engineering Process||Geoffrey Willis|
|Technology Director||Mike Elliot|