The worst kept secret in Formula One has finally been confirmed; Valtteri Bottas was confirmed yesterday as Nico Rosberg's replacement at Mercedes.
Rsoberg's shock retirement following his maiden championship win in November threw Mercedes' plans for 2017 into early disarray and led to months-long speculation about who would replace the German. Everyone from the young Pascal Wehrlein to the retired Jenson Button was mooted, but Bottas was always the most likeliest; his management is connected to de-facto Mercedes boss Toto Wolff; the team supplies engines to Bottas' ex-employer, Williams; and above all else, the Finn is a superb driver who deserves a seat at a title challenger.
All of a sudden, Bottas has gone from podium challenger to expected race winner and potential title challenger overnight. Lewis Hamilton is still expected to excel as lead driver, but the Finn is more than capable of challenging the Briton and scoring points consistently throughout the season.
The news comes as Mercedes' young driver, Pascal Wehrlein, was named Sauber driver for the upcoming season. Announced by the team on Reddit, Wehrlein impressed as a rookie at Manor last year and now has the task of establishing himself as the superior driver to Marcus Eriksson at Sauber. The Mercedes seat is his quite yet, but it seems like a matter of time before the young German graces the Mercedes garage.