F1 Team Switch-Ups & First-Ever British Dakar Winner

The season had barely reached it’s conclusion before Nico Rosberg shocked the Formula 1 world by announcing his retirement at the young age of 31.

Since then, the big wigs at Mercedes and Williams have been scrambling to reorganise their racing teams, in the wake of a tumultuous end to the season.

Amidst rumours that Felipe Massa may well be calling an end to his recently announced retirement (the 35-year old had called it a day on his 14-year racing career at the end of his 2016 campaign) and rejoining in Williams – Valtteri Bottas has now been tipped as the next driver in Mercedes sights as the hunt to find a team mate for next season’s favourite Lewis Hamilton, continues.

Finnish racer, Bottas, has spent the last 6 years racing with Williams, spending the first two of these as a test driver for the team before graduating to full blown Grand Prix driver. Although he’s not managed to secure a top spot position yet – the 27-year old racer is still considered a decent future prospect and one that would do well, playing a supporting role in Mercedes’ team next season. Although it would appear that key players in this drama are looking to make their moves, Mercedes’ spokespeople have stressed that an announcement many not be released until the end of January.

Previous reports suggested that Bottas had already turned down one offer from Mercedes – so it will remain to be seen who will be driving in their second car along side Lewis Hamilton at the start of next season.

In other Motorsport news; after 38 editions the Dakar Rally has finally been won by a British contestant.

27-year old, Dorset born Motorcross rider Sam Sunderland finished the final stages of the rally over half an hour quicker than his nearest rival, Mathias Walkner. Each year, the destination and route for the legendary Dakar Valley is adapted and changed. This year the race began in Asuncion in Paraguay and ran through the Bolivia before ending in Argentina. Sunderland’s time of 32:06:22 hours was a huge achievement for the British rider, who had tried but failed to complete the Rally two times previously.

Sunderland spoke with much emotion, after taking to the podium. His previous attempts and issues with training had led to him enter into the Rally with low expectations. Sunderland complemented the steadfastness of his team as well as noting that it was part in thanks to his partner’s resilience that he made it to the finish line in the first place.

“When I crossed the line my emotions really took over. I’ve had a lot of weight on my shoulders for the last six days. Now it feels incredible. I have to say thanks to my team, the bike has been great from start to finish.”

Sunderland will return back to Dubai to train – I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for more performances from him in the near future!