Williams have confirmed their 2017 driver line up will be current driver Valtteri Bottas and eighteen-year-old Euro Formula 3 champion Lance Stroll.
— WILLIAMS RACING (@WilliamsRacing) November 3, 2016
Perhaps the worst kept secret involving a team’s 2017 driver line up has finally been revealed, with Williams confirming they will be retaining lead driver Valtteri Bottas for another season, and promoting their development driver Lance Stroll to a full-time drive, replacing the outgoing Felipe Massa. Grove was packed today for the inevitable announcement, with Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams doing the honours of announcing the pair.
Bottas’ previous Williams deal expired at the end of 2016, and it was believed the talented Finn was offered a potential long term contract with Renault. However, the French team went with Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg instead. Resulting in Bottas agreeing to stay at Williams for another season.
“I am very happy about it and the team’s continuing trust on me and my ability. I feel we still have a lot to achieve together, we haven’t yet achieved what we could,” said the Finn in his press statement. “Williams is like my family. Going into next season, it will be eight years in total since I joined at the start of 2010, so it really does feel like home here. However, I still believe we haven’t yet achieved what we should, and can do together.”
“I’m delighted to confirm that Valtteri will be racing for Williams once again next year,” Williams announced. “Valtteri is a much-loved member of the team and his talent is unquestionable, so for him to use that experience to help lead the team forward is exciting.”
Bottas will be partnered by newcomer to the grid Lance Stroll. Stroll is replacing Massa, who announced at September’s Italian GP he will retire from F1 at the end of the season after a long and distinguished career. Stroll is a Montreal-born Canadian driver, and the son of billionaire Lawrence Stroll, who will become the second-youngest driver in F1 history when he debuts next March. His signing to the team comes after a dominant Euro Formula 3 championship win. The teenager, who only turned 18 last month, won the Formula 3 series with 100 points to spare after winning 14 races that season. With his impressive title domination, and huge fanatical backing from his father, Stroll looked like a firm favourite for the seat from early on.
“2017 is going to be a big learning curve for me,” stroll admitted to the media in his statement. “But I’m eager to absorb everything Williams can share with me so that I improve. I’ll be taking things on a race-by-race, lap-by-lap basis and hopefully progress with experience like I did when I entered Formula 4 and then Formula 3.”
Like Bottas, Williams was quick to praise the teams latest signing. “Lance joined the Williams Young Driver Programme at the end of 2015 and has impressed our engineers with his maturity, talent and enthusiasm. We are pleased to be able to offer him the opportunity to step up and show what he can do in Formula One.”
Williams are only the sixth team on the grid to confirm their full team line up so far.
2017 Team line-up so far
Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg
Ferrari: Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen
Red Bull: Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen
McLaren: Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne
Williams: Valtteri Bottas and Lance Stroll
Toro Rosso: Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat
Force India: Sergio Perez and TBA
Renault: Nico Hulkenberg and TBA
Feature Image Credit: Williams Martini Press Release