JANUARY 31, 2017
Bottas backer paying more for Mercedes move
Valtteri Bottas' personal sponsor is happy to pay a little more in 2017, as the Finn prepares to charge for wins and the title at Mercedes.
Until now, Finnish conglomerate Wihuri has backed Bottas' career by sponsoring the 27-year-old at Williams.
Wihuri chief Antti Aarnio-Wihuri, a 76-year-old billionaire, says he started supporting Bottas when he was a young boy in karts.
"Valtteri's father was the company that cleaned our factory," he told Iltalehti newspaper.
"I don't remember the amount I put in his hand, but perhaps it was 300-400 markka," Aarnio-Wihuri said.
Wihuri then backed Bottas all the way to F1, and has now agreed to move with the driver to the championship-winning Mercedes team for 2017.
Asked about the recent negotiations with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, Aarnio-Wihuri revealed: "No, it was not a difficult negotiation.
"I know Toto very well and we got to an agreement quickly. He (Wolff) was at Williams for a long time and we were immediately on the same page."
But when asked if Wihuri is having to pay more for its place on the Mercedes livery in 2017, he admitted: "Of course. The agreements are a little difficult to compare.
"The effort is a little bigger, but not in a significant way."
What is significantly different for 2017, however, are the rules, with Aarnio-Wihuri declaring: "This season will certainly be interesting.
"At this time no one knows who will have the fastest car. The changes are too great and they affect too many factors."
As for Bottas, the driver's 76-year-old backer revealed: "He's in a positive mood. Since the beginning, Valtteri's dream was to get into a winning car and now he has it.
"He is looking forward to the start of the season," Aarnio-Wihuri concluded.