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Hamilton backs Bottas at Mercedes – Wolff

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says Lewis Hamilton has supported the decision of bringing in Valtteri Bottas as Nico Rosberg's successor.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says Lewis Hamilton has supported the decision of bringing in Valtteri Bottas as Nico Rosberg's successor for 2017.

After weeks of speculation it has been confirmed Bottas has joined Mercedes from Williams after Rosberg's shock retirement just days after he won the 2016 F1 World Championship.

Hamilton welcomed the arrival of Bottas on Twitter on the day of the announcement and is believed to have given his blessing on the decision, according to Wolff.

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"Lewis said he thought Valtteri was a nice guy. One of the guys he actually got along with well in Formula 1 and he felt he was a good option,” Wolff said on a Finnish podcast.

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Wolff has admitted he's relieved to put the turbulent team-mate relationship between Hamilton and Rosberg in the past and hopes his new drivers can form a supportive partnership rather than a disruptive one.

"I think that works well. It was OK already between Nico and Lewis, but there was the luggage of the past,” he said. “Now it is a completely new relationship and there is no animosity.

"There will be moments where it is going to be difficult, but I think that how the personalities are for the team it's going to be a good situation and one that is maybe a bit easier to handle than the past. But I could be wrong."

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Bottas has been handed a one-year deal with Mercedes with the option to extend but Wolff was keen to keep opportunities open with both Sebastian Vettel's and Fernando Alonso's contract expiring at the end of 2017 with Ferrari and McLaren respectively.

"We wouldn't have chosen Valtteri if we thought that he was not good enough to continue with the team," Wolff explained. "But, as a matter of fact, the market is very dynamic at the moment. Next year options open - young drivers, Sebastian, Fernando, Valtteri, many of them. So it is about understanding that - and Valtteri does.

"Equally we have great faith and confidence in him that he can stay with us for a long time, but now we need to see how the season goes."

With Bottas switching to Mercedes, Felipe Massa has made an F1 retirement U-turn to re-join Williams as team-mate to rookie Lance Stroll. Mercedes factory driver Pascal Wehrlein has signed a deal to drive for Sauber in 2017.



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