Mercedes non-executive director Niki Lauda believes that Valtteri Bottas can become Formula 1 world champion following his move to Mercedes ahead of the 2017 season.
Bottas was formally announced as a Mercedes driver on Monday, replacing Nico Rosberg following the German’s shock decision to retire following his world title win at the end of last year.
Speaking to RTL, Lauda expressed his belief that Bottas can be just as fast as Rosberg has been and is also capable of winning a world championship.
“We took Bottas because it was the best option. He is a driver who can be just as fast as Nico and I think he can win the world championship,” Lauda said.
“It was not easy to solve the problem of Rosberg, because we were looking for a driver who could do well in our team.
“So far we have always had the best two drivers who were both capable of fighting for the championship. The Nico-Lewis pairing is a good example, because they were two top drivers and fought head-to-head.”
Lauda is sure that Bottas can hit the ground running at Mercedes, proving to be a safe option with four seasons of F1 experience already under his belt.
“In the last three years we have won everything there was to win and that’s why we involved Bottas, who brings experience and speed to the team,” Lauda said.
“We can start the season very quietly and safely with these two drivers.”
Lauda also believes that Bottas will not become involved in any intra-team tension with new teammate Lewis Hamilton, the Briton having enjoyed a particularly fiery rivalry with Rosberg during their time together at Mercedes.
“Bottas is Finnish, he is calm, doesn’t talk much, but works hard,” Lauda said.
“I am sure that he will fit perfectly in the team and will not have any problems with Hamilton.”