Recently retired Felipe Massa has agreed to re-join the Williams F1 team next year, which frees up Valtteri Bottas to replace world champion Nico Rosberg at Mercedes.
The deal is not yet confirmed as Mercedes is still weighing up all options for Rosberg’s replacement, although if the world champions decide to sign Bottas, Massa is ready to flip on his decision to retire to continue racing for Williams.
Mercedes has already made a play for Bottas’ services in 2017, however Williams was resistant in letting the Finn go, as the team had signed 18-year-old Lance Stroll and needed an experienced driver to partner the rookie.
The initial offer Mercedes is believed to have put to Williams was a reduction in engine supply costs, as well as lending their junior driver Pascal Wehrlein – who raced in 2016 for Manor – as a replacement for Bottas.
Due to the major regulation changes being introduced for 2017, Claire Williams told the BBC that they would require a “credible, experienced replacement” should Bottas leave for Mercedes.
Now that Massa has accepted the offer of continuing with the team, which was reported to be £5million by Brazil’s Grande Premio, Williams is in a position to let Bottas leave for Mercedes while retaining an experienced driver who also satisfies sponsors, primarily Martini.
Mercedes has already announced that there will be no decision made until the new year, with Niki Lauda saying that the discussions for Rosberg’s replacement were proving “difficult” and that a decision may not be made until the end of January.
Image via Williams F1