Symonds: Losing Bottas would have ‘heavy impact’ for Williams

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Williams’ technical boss Pat Symonds has warned that losing Valtteri Bottas to Mercedes in 2017 “would have a heavy impact” on the Grove-based outfit.

Despite holding a Williams contract for next year, the Finn has emerged as the front runner to replace Nico Rosberg following the 2016 Formula One world champion’s shock retirement from the sport.

The British team declined to comment on the reports when recently contacted by F1i’s Chris Medland. But with 18-year-old Lance Stroll set to make his grand prix debut at Williams in 2017, Symonds says Bottas’ presence and input are vital.

“We will have Lance Stroll as a rookie with no experience in F1,” the team's chief technical officer told Italian publication La Gazzetta dello Sport. “Keeping Bottas will be crucial. Losing him would have a heavy impact on the team.”

With Felipe Massa retiring from F1 after three seasons at Williams, Symonds adds that a completely new driver line-up would be detrimental to the team.

“People often underestimate the importance of continuity in a team. The driver is the final element needed between the engineers and the data.

“You can replace one with another, but you need to have a reference point. This will be especially true in a season in which they change the rules.”

Having made his F1 debut at Williams in 2013, Bottas has 77 race starts and nine podiums to his name so far in the top flight. And 2017 will see the biggest regulation changes since 2014 and the introduction of the 1.6-litre V6 turbocharged power units.

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