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Lauda: Bottas is best man for the job

NEWS STORY
17/01/2017

Three-time world champion Niki Lauda is confident that Valtteri Bottas will challenge for the title.

Finally, just over six weeks after Nico Rosberg stunned the world - not least his team - by announcing that he was to retire having just won the title, a replacement has been found.

While some believe that Mercedes might not fully recover from Rosberg's departure, that there was more to his decision than meets the eye and that his leaving may yet lead to problems at Brackley, non-executive chairman Niki Lauda, himself one of the greatest drivers to grace the sport, believes Valtteri Bottas is a great replacement for the German and will challenge for the title.

"Bottas is the best man," he told German broadcaster RTL. "I believe that he can drive as fast as Nico and I believe he can win the world championship.

"We can start the season in a very calm and confident manner with the pair of them," he continued, as he looked ahead to a season which, despite the regulation changes, could see Mercedes take its fourth successive constructors' crown.

"We looked for a driver who fits our team," he said. "Until now we always had two top drivers who could fight for the world championship, Nico and Lewis were a fine example of that, because they were fighting head-to-head.

"In the last three years we won everything there was to win, and this is why we decided to go with Bottas, he brings experience and speed to the team."

As we wait to see if Red Bull, Ferrari or anyone can close the gap to the German team, the Austrian confirmed that as was the case with its previous pairing, both drivers will be free to race one another.

"Both drivers can push as hard as they want, as always," he said. "This has never changed at Mercedes and it will not change in the future."

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