F1: Bottas joins Mercedes, Massa returns to Williams
Ladies and gentlemen, we can officially confirm that Felipe Massa will return to Formula One in 2017.The legendary Brazilian - who announced his retirement from the sport in September last year - has unretired himself, to rejoin Williams F1 on a one-year deal, partnering F1 rookie Lance Stroll.Valtteri Bottas meanwhile, has been “released” by the team, with Mercedes-AMG F1 annoucing that the Finn will partner Lewis Hamilton in 2017. When pushed on why he returned to F1 so soon after retiring, Massa said\: “I think what happened at the end of last season with Nicos unexpected retirement sparked a unique turn of events. Valtteri has been offered a fantastic opportunity and, as a result, an opportunity arose for me. When the media began reporting that I might return, I was touched by the response from so many fans who wanted to see me back in the sport. That was certainly a factor in the decision, so Id like to thank the fans for their support.“But, at the end of the day, when I received the call it was an offer I couldnt refuse. It was Williams\\!”And of his emotional departure at the end of last year? “The scenes I saw in Brazil and Abu Dhabi last year are ones that I will never forget. I am so grateful for everything that happened last year and all the kind messages. Whatever happens this season, I will always leave the sport with my head held high.”Claire Williams, deputy team principal at Williams, said\: “Im delighted that Felipe has agreed to come out of retirement to be a part of our 2017 campaign.“With Valtteri having a unique opportunity to join the current Constructors Champions, we have been working hard to ensure than an agreement could be made with Mercedes to give Valtteri this fantastic opportunity.”Ah yes, Valtteri. “Its very exciting times for me,” he said. “I think its going to take a while to understand that this is really happening. Its definitely another dream come true, to race in another team with such great history – especially in the recent years, which have been so impressive.“My first experience with Mercedes power was in F3 back in 2009 and, of course, I know the power unit well from the last three years with Williams. But there are a lot of new things to learn with the car and also with how the team operates at the factory, in testing and at the races,” he added.Mercedes acknowledge that Bottas has a bit of a tough road ahead, not just because of time, but also because hes now paired with “probably the most ferociously fast team-mate in the sport, Lewis Hamilton”.His new boss, Toto Wolff, said\: “Valtteri is a no-nonsense guy\: down to earth, straightforward and very focused. Pretty Finnish, to be honest, and a great fit for us. He has an impressive track record in the junior categories and nine podiums in F1. But now its time for the next level, to see how he can step up to challenge for race wins and for Championships. We know that we are already behind the curve in terms of preparations for the new season, so weve got a busy programme to get him integrated into the team. One thing is for sure\: as I know Valtteri, he will give it everything.”Its also rumoured that Mercs technical chief Paddy Lowe - who recently left the world championship team - will also join Williams. Mercedes has also confirmed that the outgoing Nico Rosberg has accepted an ambassadorial role within the team for 2017.So, Massa returns to Williams, Bottas moves over to Merc, and we have a 2017 F1 championship shaping up quite nicely…Whos your money on?