Former Formula One world champion Mika Hakkinen says that Valtteri Bottas could win the drivers' title if his dream move to Mercedes is confirmed this month.
"The situation could not be better for a driver - a team wants you," Hakkinen told Finnish TV station MTV3 this week. "Especially if it’s a team that has dominated Formula One such as Mercedes, it’s a dream situation.
"I can imagine Bottas winning the championship," added Hakkinen, who had previously been part of Bottas' personal management team along with Didier Coton and Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.
"When you get to the team which is on top of the mountain, and which is able to win championships and races, then it's up to you to develop, to take wins and the championship."
Bottas is believed to be favourite to take over from Nico Rosberg, who shocked the world of motorsport by announcing his retirement from the sport just five days after winning the 2016 championship.
The late notice of Rosberg's decision to bow out has put Mercedes on the spot, with many top drivers already committed to other teams for the forthcoming season.
However it's believed that Williams - who rely on engines supplied by Mercedes - might be persuaded to release Bottas if a suitable deal can be reached. It's rumoured that Williams want the entire £14 million cost of their 2017 engine supply to be written off in exchange for releasing Bottas.
If Mercedes can't reach a deal with Mercedes to secure Bottas' services, they may have to promote 2015 DTM champion Pascal Wehrlein into the race seat alongside three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.
Currently unsigned for 2017, Wehrlein spent last season competing with Manor Racing, securing a point for them with tenth place in the Austrian Grand Prix.
Wehrlein's former team mate at Manor and fellow Mercedes junior talent Estaban Ocon has already been signed to Force India for the new season, despite only taking part in nine races after taking over as a mid-season replacement for Rio Haryanto.