Valtteri Bottas joined the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team in somewhat of a whirlwind deal, following world championship winning driver Nico Rosberg’s decision to retire from the sport just days after winning the title, leaving the German squad with a huge dilemma.
The late in the day signing also leaves the Finn with relatively little time to get used to his new team and surroundings ahead of the 2017 season, but Mercedes Chairman Niki Lauda told Auto Motor und Sport recently that would not be a problem.
The Austrian believes the new regulations could not have come at a better time for Bottas, with all drivers having the challenge of adapting to the new rules, which should allow the Finn more breathing space.
“He does not have much time to settle in, everything is new to him as it is to us, but Bottas has two advantages.
“Firstly, he is coming into a top team and that will make it easier for him to find his bearings.
“Secondly, we will have completely new cars this year. They are also new for Lewis, so Lewis cannot build on a car he already knows. Both of them, therefore, can develop the car from the beginning so that it suits them.”
Lauda also believes that Bottas is a perfect fit for the Mercedes team, and sees him as a good like-for-like replacement of Rosberg, and will bring speed and experience to the Brackley based squad.
When asked when it would be fair to start judging the Finn’s performance, the Austrian stated that it would take at least a few races.
“After four races we know more.”
Both drivers will also be free to push each other as hard as they want, as has always been the Mercedes philosophy, which should allow once again for a close battle between the silver arrows pairing.