Valtteri Bottas has secured the most highly-sought after driver’s seat in Formula One as he heads into the 2017 season with Mercedes and a fired up Lewis Hamilton.
Following the shock retirement of reigning champion Nico Rosberg at the end of last season, three-time champion Hamilton was left without a driving partner as he watched his greatest rival depart the sport.
Names were being thrown around left, right and centre in the aftermath with the rumour mill running into overdrive as to who would join the dominant Mercedes team.
Coming over from Williams, Bottas has been revealed as the lucky driver.
The 27-year-old has racked up just nine podiums in his four-year career across 77 starts, but has long been pegged as a driver of the future thanks to his laid back and calm racing style, similar to fellow Fin and world champion Kimi Raikkonen.
Despite a disappointing season in 2016 with just the single podium finish and ending up eighth in the driver standings, Team Principals Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda have scooped him up.
Bottas has already jumped on the opportunity to rack up a maiden Formula One victory and maybe, just maybe, a World Championship.
“My target is to perform from the very first race… I know I am capable of that,” he said.
“The team has won many (titles), I haven’t won any and I’m sure we share the same target.”
“Being able to be in such a great team with great history, (is) now potentially a chance to fight for the championship and for me the drivers’ championship is the only goal in my life at the moment.”
As for his budding relationship with new teammate Hamilton, Bottas has made it clear he won’t be looking for as much heat and tension as the Rosberg-Hamilton combination.
“I see no issues at all between us. I am sure we can work well together, push each other on the track hard, race fair but really hard and at the same time push the team together.”
“I am sure as a pair we can work well, I’m sure we can be good team players together… “I don’t know him that well yet but I’m looking forward to getting to know him better.”
As for Williams, the Bottas departure has been filled by Brazilian veteran Felipe Massa, who was initially retiring after last season, but has been brought back on a one-year deal.
He will partner 18-year-old Canadian prodigy Lance Stroll in the Williams garage.