Valtteri Bottas of Finland will race alongside three-time champion Lewis Hamilton at Formula One team Mercedes in 2017.
Valtteri Bottas of Finland will race alongside three-time champion Lewis Hamilton at Formula One team Mercedes in 2017. Luca Bruno

New Mercedes driver already under pressure

MOTORSPORT: Valtteri Bottas will be in the hot seat in more ways than one this Formula One season driving for Mercedes.

The 27-year-old will effectively be on P-plates throughout 2017 after winning the battle to replace retired world champion Nico Rosberg as the man to partner Lewis Hamilton.

It is believed the Finn has signed a one-year contract with the chance to secure a lengthier deal - or lose his spot in 2018.

"We have a couple of options,” Mercedes boss Toto Wolff told Sky Sports.

"We were caught back with Nico's decision to retire and we have some great junior drivers with Pascal (Wehrlein) and Esteban (Ocon) coming up the ranks.

"But they need a little bit more time so for us it was key to keep the options open and Valtteri is very well aware of that. He needs to just perform and be quick and then the future can be his.”

While Ocon has been hired by Force India for 2017, Wehrlein will continue his development with a seat at Sauber.

If Bottas fails to fire in 2017, Mercedes may turn back to either rising star, or look further afield to multiple champions Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso, who are both out of contract in December.



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