The significant final pieces of the Formula 1 2017 jigsaw are expected to be confirmed imminently with all signs pointing towards a move to Mercedes for Valtteri Bottas following a reported pre-Christmas seat fitting.
The Finn has been heavily tipped to succeed newly retired 2016 F1 champion Nico Rosberg at Mercedes since it became apparent the team had approached Williams about releasing him from their contract.
Though the initial bid was turned down by the Grove squad, the emergence that it has itself turned to Felipe Massa for a return to F1 little more than a month after he left both Williams and the sport indicated a deal was in process.
Whilst Mercedes said no deal would be announced before the turn of the new year, sources suggest a contract has been signed, with Motorsport.com
reporting that Bottas visited the factory in Brackley for a seat fitting prior to the end of the year.
With Bottas set to head to Mercedes, Massa is thus expected to resume his spot at Williams alongside rookie Lance Stroll, with the Brazilian taking to Twitter
over the break to show he remains in training.
Meanwhile, Pascal Wehrlein is all-but-certain to switch from Manor to Sauber, the German's lack of experience at the highest level seemingly counting against him in his bid to secure a berth alongside Lewis Hamilton. Williams also turned down the offer of taking on the former DTM champion seemingly because the combination of Wehrlein and Stroll was considered too 'young' for title sponsor Martini.
Elsewhere, Pat Symonds' decision to leave his post at Williams is expected to open the door for Paddy Lowe to make his much rumoured switch from Mercedes into his place, with ex-Ferrari man James Allison set to take his place later in the year.
Manor is the only remaining team left to announce its drivers for the 2017 season, with respected journalist Joe Saward suggesting a potential deal with Rio Haryanto has fallen through as he won't be backed by Pertamina. GP2 runner-up Antonio Giovinazzi had also been linked with the drive prior to his appointment with Ferrari as its test and reserve driver.
Latest Tweets from Crash.net & GPF1rst