As Valtteri Bottas leaves Mercedes for Alfa Romeo, without actually naming his successor, Toto Wolff insists that dropping him in favour of Mr X wasn't "an easy process or a straightforward decision".
At least one cat is finally out of the bag, as Alfa Romeo has announced that Valtteri Bottas is to join the team in 2022 on a multi-year deal.
Though Mercedes has yet to announce his replacement (yawn), team boss Toto Wolff has paid tribute to the Finn.
"This hasn't been an easy process or a straightforward decision for us," said the Austrian. "Valtteri has done a fantastic job over the past five seasons and he has made an essential contribution to our success and to our growth.
"Together with Lewis, he has built a benchmark partnership between two team-mates in the sport, and that has been a valuable weapon in our championship battles and pushed us to achieve unprecedented success.
"He would absolutely have deserved to stay with the team, and I am pleased that he has been able to choose an exciting challenge with Alfa next year to continue his career at the top level of the sport; when the time comes, he will leave us with huge goodwill from every single member of the team, and he will forever be part of the Mercedes family."
"I am so proud of everything we have achieved together in my time with Mercedes," said Bottas, "and it is not over yet, because we have our biggest challenge so far to try and claim our eighth constructors' title," said Valtteri as he commented on the news of his move to Alfa Romeo.
"When I look back on my time with Mercedes, I want to be able to say that I squeezed every drop out of this opportunity and left nothing on the table; and I want to make sure that we finish our time together as champions.
"It has been a privilege and a great sporting challenge to work with Lewis, and the harmony in our relationship played a big part in the constructors' championships we won as teammates. Later this year, the time will come to say goodbye -that's not for now, but I would like to thank Toto and the team for the respect in how we took the decision together.
"I am really pleased to have chosen my new challenge with Alfa Romeo, an exciting and iconic manufacturer, and by the opportunity to help lead the team forward up the grid. I'm as hungry as ever to race for results and when the time comes, for wins. But for now, my mission is clear: maximum attack for Mercedes, all the way to the final lap in Abu Dhabi."
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