One of Valtteri Bottas' former team bosses has praised the driver's talent and attitude, and tipped the Finn for big success at Mercedes this year.
Bottas has been announced as Nico Rosberg's replacement at the team, after the newly crowned world champion shocked the world of motorsport by retiring just five days after the end of the 2016 season, leaving Mercedes with a big hole to fill.
Bottas has been painted by sceptics as the 'least worst' last-minute option for Mercedes, but Bottas's former Formula Renault 2.0 team boss Timo Rumpfkeil said that the driver was far more than a stopgap solution and had real potential to shine in 2017 despite the challenge of being pitched against team mate Lewis Hamilton.
“I am absolutely sure that [Bottas] will shine with excellent results this season," Rumpfkeil told Motopark.com. "For the first time in years, he has competitive material, and no one is hungrier for success than him.
"He is an absolutely gifted natural talent," Rumpfkeil continued. "[Valtteri] is technically very versed – a man who lives only for the sport - and today he is the same deep-seated guy as he was as an up-and-coming talent back in 2008.
"In 2008, we won the NEC Formula Renault and the Formula Renault Eurocup," he pointed out. "17 victories, 20 pole positions, 22 podium finishes and 16 fastest racecourses speaks very clearly. In that year, Valtteri beat Daniel Ricciardo and Roberto Mehri.
"A really good guy from a normal home who is where he is for one reason: he is an absolute exceptional talent and a hard worker! I believe that no one deserves more to get there or ever worked harder for his aims than Valtteri."