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Niki Lauda is the boss at Mercedes brosports.com

Yes, the mighty Finn, Valtteri Bottas has replaced 2016 Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg at Mercedes following the German’s shock retirement from the sport.

Reactions to the momentous event are still ongoing but there is little doubt this could be the best break of Bottas’ life, or at least his career.

If he plays his cards right, he could easily compete for the world title this year in a car most other rivals can only dream of after a particularly good dinner washed down with extra-expensive champagne.

Now, Mercedes chief and racing legend Nikki Lauda has added his two cents to the issue and officially helped clarify some little understood matters that were being furiously speculated.

He has opined that Bottas could possibly prove to be as quick as the man he replaced. Additionally, he gave the Finn complete freedom of action in challenging and pressing Lewis for the title this season.

Still, it is rather interesting and instructive that he did not directly compare Bottas with Lewis. I suspect Bottas is due to get schooled and screwed by the Brit before the season really gets off the track.

With Rosberg prematurely gone, Mercedes had to find the right man and fast too, and Lauda seems to harbor no doubts as to the perfect suitability of Bottas for the arduous and speedy task at hand.

“Bottas is the best man,” Lauda told German broadcaster RTL. “I believe he can drive similarly as fast as Nico. This is why we start the new season with him and Hamilton.

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

“Sometimes one was in front, sometimes the other. In the last three years we won everything there was to win. And this is why we decided to go with Bottas, as he brings experience and speed to the team.”

“He is a calm Finn and I like that about him. He doesn’t talk a lot but is a hard worker. Toto and I have known him for years. I think he fits really well into the team.”

“As always: both drivers can push as much as they want, completely free. This never has changed at Mercedes and it won’t change in the future.

“We talked to Lewis and explained to him that Bottas will be driving alongside him. Lewis doesn’t have an issue with that and neither does Bottas. I think we can go calmly into the season with these two drivers.”

“The commotion after we lost Nico has gone completely. I’m very relaxed now because I believe with Bottas we again have an equal driver pairing like last year.”

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