Valtteri Bottas says he is up for the challenge of replacing World Champion Nico Rosberg after agreeing on a deal to join Mercedes ahead of the 2017 Formula One season.

The twenty-seven-year-old Finn joined the reigning Constructors Champions from Williams, taking the place of Rosberg who announced a shock retirement from the sport shortly after securing the 2016 World title.

“I’ve been dreaming for a long time to drive for a team like this, a team of champions. I’m really proud to be a part of this” he remarked.

The shoes of Rosberg are big ones for Bottas to fill. The Monte Carlo resident, whose F1 career began in 2013, is still searching for a first Grand Prix victory. He has recorded just nine podium finishes during his time in F1, with six of those coming in 2014 when he finished a respectable fourth place in the Drivers Championship.

But Bottas is relishing the challenge of succeeding Rosberg. “I always set really tough goals for myself. The pressure, if there is any, comes from me because I want to win races and I want to win championships” he claimed. “I’m prepared to work as hard as it takes to be able to get everything out of the car” he added.

Toto Wolff, executive director of the Mercedes team, was delighted with his new addition. “I think Valtteri fits extremely well to our team”, he commented upon announcing the signing of Bottas. “As a driver, he is very fast but he also shares our values and passion”.

The team boss will be hoping his new man enjoys a healthier relationship with new teammate Lewis Hamilton than predecessor Rosberg, whose frosty relationship with the Briton was well documented. “I really respect him [Hamilton] as a driver and as a person,” Bottas claimed. “I’m sure we can work well together and push each other forward which is very good for the team”.

Bottas will be replaced at Williams by veteran Felipe Massa who has reversed his decision to retire. The former Ferrari driver, who has represented Williams since 2014, had called time on his thirteen-year F1 career at the end of 2016 but has been persuaded to return to the cockpit after Bottas’ departure. “I didn’t expect it but things change in life,” said the Brazilian. “I think my experience can help the team get results”.

Alistair Sargent, Correspondent (Sport)

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