Williams open to Bottas move

Date published: December 16 2016

Williams said they are willing to release Formula One driver Valtteri Bottas to join Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes next year.

“I’m delighted to see that a team like Mercedes lists Valtteri as a potential replacement for Nico Rosberg,” Williams deputy principal Claire Williams told BBC Sport.

Mercedes are seeking a replacement for the world champion Rosberg, who retired last month.

“We have always known Valtteri is one of the sport’s key talents and are proud that the championship leaders recognise this,” Williams said.

Bottas has finished on the podium nine times in his career, but is yet to win.

Williams said that Bottas would be let go “if an experienced, credible alternative was available.”

“However, Williams has its own ambitions and we must always ensure we give our team the best opportunity to move forward. Any changes would only be made if Williams remains in a strong position to compete and develop in 2017.”

Williams said that Felipe Massa could return, despite also retiring this year.

The fifth-placed team in the championship this year rejected number one Mercedes’ first offer for Bottas, but negotiations are continuing.

Mercedes said they would not make an announcement on Rosberg’s replacement until at least January 3.

Hamilton said his team must consult him on the replacement.

“Basically, once they’ve dwindled it down to five drivers, or whatever it is, the shortlist, contractually they have to discuss with me,” Hamilton told Channel 4.

“They can put any driver they want — bring Sebastian [Vettel], Fernando [Alonso], bring whoever you really want. I drove against Fernando in my first year [at McLaren in 2007] and beat him, so that’s not a worry for me. I am happy to drive against any of them, but in terms of what is best for the team, probably not the best ideas.”

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