Mika Hakkinen has come out in support for fellow countrymen Valtteri Bottas as Mercedes searches for a replacement for Nico Rosberg, saying the Finn is capable enough to become a World Champion.
Bottas has emerged as a prime candidate to join Lewis Hamilton at Silver Arrows, which is of the opinion that its own academy driver Pascal Wehrlein doesn’t have the necessary experience for the job.
Having turned its back on Wehrlein, Mercedes is expected to buy out Bottas from his existing contract with Williams, offering them a subsidy on engine price in return.
Hakkinen, who previously managed Bottas’ career, believes the 27-year-old is ideally suited for a team like Mercedes as he has all the traits to win F1’s ultimate pricea.
"The situation could not be better for a driver - a team wants you," Hakkinen told Finnish TV channel MTV3 "Especially if it’s a team that has dominated Formula One such as Mercedes, it’s a dream situation.
"I can imagine Bottas winning the championship.
"When you get to the team which is on top of the mountain, and which is able to win championships and races, then it's up to you to develop, to take wins and the championship."
Bottas graduated to Formula 1 after winning the 2011 GP3 series. Since then he has notched nine podium finishes and played an integral role in Williams’ renaissance.
Hakkinen won both his champions in Mercedes-powered McLarens in 1998-99.
by Rachit Thukral