Valtteri Bottas handed chance to be an F1 winner as Mercedes replaces Nico Rosberg
Mercedes
Valtteri Bottas
Posted By: Editor   |  16 Jan 2017   |  3:14 pm GMT  |  234 comments

Mercedes has confirmed that Valtteri Bottas will partner Lewis Hamilton for the 2017 Formula 1 season.

The Brackley-based team has signed the Finn on as a replacement for Nico Rosberg, who stunned F1 when he decided to retire just five days after clinching the 2016 world title last November.

The 2017 season represents the first time Bottas will have a regular shot a race victories in F1. But a higher profile seat on the F1 grid comes greater pressure and expectation.

Bottas will leave Williams, the team where he had spent his entire F1 career since winning the GP3 title back in 2011. That season was the 27-year-old’s most recent championship success and he also scored his most recent race victory at the Donington round of that year’s British Formula 3 championship.

Valtteri Bottas

Speaking as the news was announced, Bottas said: “It’s very exciting times for me. I think it’s going to take a while to understand that this is really happening. It’s definitely another dream come true, to race in another team with such great history – especially in the recent years, which have been so impressive. I’m really proud to become a part of that and grateful to everyone at Mercedes for trusting my skills and giving me this opportunity.

“I’m ready to work hard, to prove myself to the team and to prove my skills. It’s going to be a challenging season and joining a new team makes it more work than normal. But I’m 100 per cent ready for that. I’m training hard to be at my physical best because it will be much tougher with these new cars. I always set the bar really high, so my target is to perform from the first race. I’m full of energy and ready to get to work for this year and hopefully many more to come with Mercedes.”

Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ head of motorsport, described Bottas as “a great fit” for the team, which has won the last three drivers’ and constructors’ world championships and is trying to achieve the feat over winning over two different formulas with F1’s new chassis rules being introduced in 2017.

Valtteri Bottas Toto Wolff

He said: “Sometimes in life, unexpected circumstances provide interesting opportunities. Nico’s decision in December was a big surprise – certainly a challenging situation for the team to handle. But weathering the storm makes you more resilient and we see this as another opportunity for the team to grow.

“Valtteri is a no-nonsense guy: down to earth, straightforward and very focused. Pretty Finnish, to be honest, and a great fit for us. He has an impressive track record in the junior categories and nine podiums in F1. But now it’s time for the next level, to see how he can step up to challenge for race wins and for Championships. We know that we are already behind the curve in terms of preparations for the new season, so we’ve got a busy programme to get him integrated into the team. One thing is for sure: as I know Valtteri, he will give it everything.”

The move to Mercedes will give Bottas the chance to fight at the front of the F1 grid on a regular basis and provides him with the opportunity to add Grand Prix wins to his nine podium finishes, which he scored for Williams between 2014 and 2016.

So far in his F1 career, Bottas has made 77 race starts and scored 411 points, with second place at the British and German races in 2014 representing his best results. The Finn also has one F1 fastest lap to his name, and won the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC championship and two Zandvoort Masters of Formula 3 events during his junior single seater career.

Valtteri Bottas

As we outlined in these pages, Bottas is in many ways a like-for-like replacement for Rosberg, who also began his F1 career with a stint at Williams. Rosberg went on to score 23 Grand Prix wins and the 2016 title while partnered with first Michael Schumacher and then Lewis Hamilton, two drivers that have 10 F1 titles between them.

James Allen’s View: This announcement is no surprise of course, but it’s good that it’s finally done and out in the open. Nico Rosberg’s retirement was a shock to Mercedes and the eco-system around them and they’ve done the logical thing in bringing in Valtteri Bottas who has extensive experience of the Mercedes power unit, enough experience near the front of F1 to know the characters he will be racing against and he also has a big hunger to succeed.

He is also mentored by Wolff and that will make it easier to settle in.

The dynamic with Lewis Hamilton will be interesting on that front as Hamilton has shown a tendency to talk of ‘me and them’ with his team when things aren’t going to his liking and having the boss’ protege in the other car could get political.

But Bottas himself is not political. He’s a failry straight forward guy who is getting a great opportunity. His fellow Finn Heikki Kovalainen got a similar opportunity at McLaren when they were a winning team and he managed just one victory, getting otherwise blwon away by Hamilton in the other car. Will Bottas do better? I suspect that he will, but we might re-evaluate Nico Rosberg’s performances after this season.

Valtteri Bottas

One final note is that Ferrari considered Bottas to replace Raikkonen in 2016 but decided that the younger Finn had flatlined in his F1 development. Last season was hard to judge as Massa was not quite on the same level – let’s hope he raises his game in 2017 for Williams – so did Bottas develop of was he static against a declining Massa?

I think that like all proper racing drivers, the fact that he has a sniff of a victory will mean that he is right up for it this year. I expect Mercedes to race Red Bull for the championship and Bottas has plenty of experience of wheel to wheel stuff with Daniel Ricciardo, as well as a bit with Max Verstappen. I think Bottas will win in 2017 and I’d put Russia down as a likely location, if he hasn’t won before then. He’s never qualified lower than 3rd at Sochi – in a Williams!

What do you make of the news that Valtteri Bottas will race for Mercedes in 2017? How do you think he will perform? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JA on F1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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1

Much as I rate Bottas I feel he is the wrong choice. The wrong choice for Mercedes and the wrong choice for him. Mercedes clearly want a stop gap driver for 2017 and only if by chance they get one to trash Lewis will he be retained for the following season. The obvious choice from many perspectives was Button. He knows a lot of the team, he is a great sorter of set ups, he gets on with Lewis and I really think that being in a Merc would give him that final burst to beat Lewis. Bottas on the other hand will find a political atmosphere that he is not used to handling and a very real chance of having no serious drive for 2018. The winner in all of this is Toto and that is why the deal was done.

2

Button was not in the mix his contracted still with Mclaren Honda .
I don’t see why he would break his contract. He is loved up with his new woman and spends his time in USA . His main aim is Triathlon and Rally Cross with the hope of Alonso bails he will get a ride in the new Mclaren.
I understand where you are coming from but Mercedes plus Toto = Bottas.
Nepotism in full swing.

3

Does any know just how much data Mercedes has available from inside the cockpit on Bottas. Do they know from the sensors when he gets on his breaks and when he throttles?

If this is the case, then how would they consider between Bottas and Wehrlein, as it seems the only other tyhey considered with data in mind. Perez also being in a Mercedes unit, but maybe harder to wrestle free.

I imagine that the engine isnt going to change all that much, and that the power curve characteristics will remain equal to that which he knows, and as such be able to predict where he can utilize his power best both in and out of corners. Wile ofcourse conserving some rubber.

Assuming they have ALL the data, they must have had an educated guess at whether Bottas was flatlining as Ferrari was saying, or simply if the Williams poor aero packages of 2015/2016 were the reason why he didnt score much anymore.

Thanks 🙂

4

Good point – engine wise yes, but they won’t have the steering traces and such like unless they asked Williams for them, which seems unlikely

They certainly have all the external data on Bottas, as they have on all drivers, in terms of their performances, qualifying laps, fuel corrected long run and race lap times, corner speeds etc and they can draw a lot of conclusions from that.

5

I love the assumption everyone is making the Mercedes will be on top again despite the rule change.

6

Think you are making the assumption they won’t be. They still have an engine that will perform better with a heavier car than a Renault Tag engine will with a heavier Red Bull or a Renault.
If going by your Crystal Ball Mclaren Honda will be on a par with Ferrari nd Red Bull behind them. With Mercedes still superior and with a more meaner engine giving more power than other teams. From that you could say anything with a Mercedes engine will pack more speed.

7

Rupert, Did I say they wouldn’t win? did I make any prediction at all in my comment? Not only is everyone assuming Merc will win, you are assuming what I am thinking without a single word to go by. Thanks for proving me right.

8

Proving you right ?😨
Your assumption is also a directive.
Penned towards an outcome.
So I can attribute meaning to it .
Unless you’re just gassing willy nilly.
Which is like a blind man swinging a mace at a piñata. Best of luck hombre

9

Good to see the long-mooted deals finalised at last.

Whatever my preferences were, I wish Valtteri Bottas well in his new challenge. I’m going to sound like a broken record on Valtteri but for me he is quick and professional, no problems there. I do worry whether he has got the assertiveness (on- and off-track) to be a champion though. Toto Wolff calling him “shy” and “timid” doesn’t help him either; they’re hardly personality traits that most F1 team principals look for when driver scouting, so it’s hardly a ringing endorsement! We did see some of this when he admitted the mid-2015 Ferrari speculation affected him; I lauded his honesty and in one sense it’s an understandable and very human reaction but I think that will be an area for development.

On track, the moves by Ricciardo (at Monza) and Hulkenberg (at Suzuka), plus their reactions (“see you later!” etc.) seemed to suggest he’s a bit docile wheel-to-wheel as well, or at least seen to be by fellow drivers. It made me wonder whether this was why Raikkonen tried such a desperate lunge at Sochi in 2015; he thought Bottas would simply jump out of the way to avoid an accident.

I think the key for Bottas to begin with is to remember what has got him the Mercedes drive. I don’t mean Rosberg’s retirement and Wolff’s management deal. I mean speed, professionalism and several good results (particularly in Canada!). He’s also got to remember that, while his contemporary Ricciardo has had more success in F1, and is a more assertive overtaker, Bottas has beaten him before (in the 2008 Formula Renault Eurocup 2.0 series) – in a straight fight no less. So he can beat him again. It sounds like I’m knocking Bottas, but I probably self-identify with a lot of the personality characteristics I’ve described here, so I do empathise and genuinely wish him well.

As for Massa? Well, the commercial considerations (in terms of Martini and in terms of a Brazilian F1 driver being needed) were very strong; and it seems the team genuinely values his experienced input. I just hope he is still hungry and committed and can deliver strong performances. I hope we don’t turn round mid-season and question why he returned, because he doesn’t deserve an undignified end to his F1 career.

10

James, do you think bottas was Mercedes first choice?

11

Of the players who were ‘available’ – yes

12

Off topic, so I apologize in advance.
James, a couple of posts above I posted a reply, that doesn’t appear on the site. Is it possible to ask what was the problem with that post? It wasn’t rude in any way, it followed the comment rules, it was a normal post where I was writing how I also hope to see 4 teams fighting for the Championship in 2017 and to see the way Hamilton copes with extra pressure.
I know that there is a small chance to get a reply as you are very busy, but for the life of me I can’t comprehend what went wrong in my post and any kind of reply would be welcomed.
Thanks for all that you offer us, and have a great day, Ionut.

13

None of your comments have been deleted or gone into the trash folder. It’s just a case of waiting for them to go through moderation, as is the case for all comments posted on the site. Hope this clears things up.

14

Thank you for the clarification Alex, as it shows I was a bit too eager O_O.
Patience is a virtue I seem to lack.

15

Can this be rephrased as their only logical choice

16

The key words, ‘who were available’. Considering that mercedes were left with a depleted inventory they made the only choice possible, go conservative and see what happens. Wehrlein must be hurting.

17

Bottas is a good solid driver but I think Hamilton will be highly motivated to win back reigning WDC status by the end of next year. Valtteri will end up being good number 2 2 to Lewis James and I think he will wonder in future like Heikki at McLaren ‘Why on earth did I go there’?’ On another note I’m Kimi fan and look forward to proper battle to be Finland’s no 1 racing driver.

18

Give VB a chance… he’s quick, especially over on lap, makes few mistakes and consistent. A bit of an unknown quantity given the quality of the cars he’s been driving. Massa is no slouch and gave MS a run for his money on Many occasions, VB beat him. New regs and a top car I think Bottas will surprise Afew people and give the LH a good fight. I’m thinking it could be a four team fight this year, let’s hope so….

19

“…it could be a four team fight this year”

Oh man, I hope you are right, it would do a world of good to F1, to end the boring domination of one team!
Even if the fight for 1st place was sometimes interesting, watching the ballerinas turn their motors up and disappear into the distance was a turn-off.
And I would like to see how the new LH (3 times World Champ) handles the pressure from the other teams, when the talk is futile and politics stop working, if he shows real metal or decides he isn’t interested any more in racing, packs his “toys” and takes over some DJ-ing or something similar.

I have a feeling this is a deciding year in how he will be seen as a Champion, a Great or just a lucky one (as Vettel).

20

Maybe I was born last night, but isn’t it odd that Wolff managed Bottas while the latter drove for a team that was both client and competitor? There’s no conflict – or at least confusion – of interests possible in that? Not to mention, of course, that Wolff now manages one of his own two Merc drivers.

What kind of team – what kind of sport – allows this sort of thing? Because I haven’t seen much written about it, I’ll guess that similar relationships are common.

Is any manager above pursuing a self-interest, consciously or unconsciously?

Why would a person in Wolff’s position be interested in managing a driver? Is the pay good?

21

This has been happening for a long time, mate. The one that comes to mind is Flavio Briatore used to run the Renault team and he manages Alonso, didn’t he ? He gave Alonso his drive at Renault, if memory serves me right.

22

Winners:

Mercedes. They get an OK-ish driver in at short notice to cover Rosberg, when desperately short of other options. Should dot the i’s and cross the t’s and at least score regular points. Whether he’ll be able to be in front of the Bull’s and score regular podiums, that’s another question altogether.

Hamilton. Clear defacto No1 status in the team now. Can just get on with it and get his 4th WDC. Substantially increased power within the team. Can really call the shots. Bottas isn’t going to give him any difficulties.

—————————–

Losers:

Williams: Have one rookie driver and one driver who had already mentally retired several races before the end of 2016. On a good day can have a decent race but generally has nearly always been a number 2 driver, and ability to overtake is average at best. Not having a high-end driver to regularly score points surely negates the savings they’ve made on engines etc. And giving Bottas to Merc so easily surely only cements the reputation as a lower-field team.

Massa: What does he gain from this apart from a simple paycheck? Just going to drive round for the sake of it, purely to be a stop gap and help Williams just for a season? He’s been talked into it and I’m not sure if this is the right thing.

The fans. Bottas and Hamilton isn’t going to be an exciting rivalry. What about Ham Vs Alonso round 2. We won’t be getting it. Not for now….. All we can hope for is to Red Bull / Renault to make a big step and then hopefully we’ll have a big Ham vs Max battle. But this remains to be seen

—————————–

Unclear: Bottas. OK, he’s got a drive in a top team, but if he doesn’t prove himself quickly then maybe it could just be a one year wonder and could kill his career stone dead? He could have driven around with Williams / Force India teams for years, had a long career with no issues. Now he’s rolling the dice a bit. Could be out in 2018 anyway if Merc go for Alonso or Vet.

23

I know everyone was hoping for Alonso, and it would be great, but never in the history of F1 have two multiple champions been teammates. If Jim Clark didn’t die, then perhaps him and Graham Hill would have been the first in 1969, but that’s the closest we’ve been to that.

There’s obviously reasons for that, but then again there’s always a first time for everything.

24

He’s inherited the seat of the reigning WDC from a midfield team who were sliding backwards for the last 3 seasons and somehow you are unsure if he’s a winner out of all this.. lol.

25

Interesting post.
About Bottas, fail or spot on?
At least we will know the “truth” about him, right?
Several drivers have “inconclusive” careers in F1.

About WilliamsF1,
I guess we could open a short/long-term analysis.
Paddy Lowe comming is a gain to Williams, short and long term.
Lowe can lay the fundations at Williams to attract a top driver in 2018.
Papa Stroll must be inclined to invest more in Williams.
The Bottas/Massa swap is a loss short term.
But is unhappy Bottas vs happy Massa really a loss?
Drivers have feelings and a frustrated enslaved Bottas might be less productive – or not.
All in all, Williams might lure a top driver in 2018.

26

If the 2017 Mercedes doesn’t drop in form against the others (which I very much doubt) and reliability is good, I think Bottas will surprise a few people. He is quick and almost always brings the car home. He just lack the equipment in the past. I doubt he will beat LH consistently, but he will when LH has an off day. Which is what Mercedes wants from a “2nd” driver. And going on the podium for him will be a regular occurrence.

People are writing him off, because of the resurgence of Red Bull and their very exciting driver pairing. The improvement of McHonda and not forgetting the improving Renault engine. With the new regulations as well. All in all, it will be a very exciting 2017.

27

Barring mechanical issues, 2017 may well be famous as the season when one driver won every single race. I am looking for a bookie to take a large bet on that if anyone knows of one offering odds?

28

I can tell you it won’t happen, mate. I’ll take your bet.

29

Not much News really, as it became more obvious as time was passing. Good luck to Bottas on the new seat. I believe he will fit in nicely into the team and maybe his true sporting colors will come to light now that he has a good package under him.

How this fairs out on the grid will all depend on the first few races of the season. With the RBR’s being up there with the Merc’s and the Ferrari’s trying to get in there with the aid of their two experienced drivers, it would be interesting to see if Bottas can take the heat and keep the Merc’s upfront. Bottas surely has one of the most difficult jobs among the drivers for 2017 and I sure hope he lives up to the expectations. It might sound like a boring season to some, but the idea of having Bottas in the mix if the cars are all close together up front adds a nice flavor to the mix.

30

Australia sometimes throws up a surprise. And I remember being there in 2014 at the first race of the new engine formula, Bottas was on it that day and drove really well.
Bottas to get off to a flyer (through whatever circumstances) and win his first race with Mercedes. You heard it here first! Ha!

31

Australia sometimes throws up a surprise. And I remember being there in 2014 at the first race of the new engine formula, Bottas was on it that day and drove really well.
Bottas to get off to a flyer (through whatever circumstances) and win his first race with Mercedes. You heard it here first! Ha!

32

If you are correct then the ‘little ballerina’ would be having the worlds biggest ‘tanty’.

33

I’m glad that its finally official, Bottas is a terrific replacement for Rosberg. Unless there are significant handling changes in the ’17 car for Mercedes, I would expect Hamilton to dominate in just about every area though. It will be really interesting to see Bottas racing at the front, the car will give him every opportunity to run hard and challenge consistently with the Red Bulls and others. He can be a hard-nosed racer with the right car. What a fantastic opportunity for him. Goodluck Valtteri !

34

Well the cars *will* be drastically different to drive.. that much is a given. I think this new formula will play to Hamilton’s strengths very well. It always appeared he was well within his comfort zone whenever we heard him on the radio, and he above most should be able to handle the extra physicality of the faster cars. Bottas’s problem will be that everything will be built around Hamilton – such things as how the steering wheel and cockpit controls have been designed. To make an impression on Hamilton he needs to have any many controllable things in his favour as possible. I expect him to do well, but its unrealistic to expect him to beat a fired-up Hamilton.

35

James. You say:

One final note is that Ferrari considered Bottas to replace Raikkonen in 2016 but decided that the younger Finn had flatlined in his F1 development.

However Claire Williams has recently been quoted as saying that Williams blocked the move. Which one is correct?

36

They set the bar high for a contract buyout and Ferrari evaluated it as not worth it given their view on his development

But if the will is there and the money, a deal can always be done

37

Mercedes’ habit of preparing dissiers on Lewis’ moves, acceleration and braking points, and handing it to the other driver, will skew the results a bit, but we won’t know any different, either way.

38

I guess that for me the question is simple….will Capt. Dull be transformed into Capt Shine? If he is relegated to being the back up ‘hoover’ what will that say about mercedes? I don’t think anyone really knows how he’ll fare as he was anything but interesting over the past few years. Even in the williams/mid field he didn’t exactly set the pulses racing. Maybe all he needs is the right car and he’ll be schooling hamilton out of the box! If the car is as superior as it has been in the past then he should do well and prove my previous claim…that the drovers dog could win in a merc. If not then maybe i’ll just have to eat some crow…let’s see.

39

Season hasn’t even started yet but pundits’ projections favour Merc & Red Bull for the shot at both titles. Could Ferrari or McLaren be dark horses?
Especially Ferrari’s low profile PR this winter looks very suspicious, usually they are very optimistic each January but this.

40

Don’t think Red Bull has done enough to overhaul Mercedes, but it will be a good battle. For Red Bull, the chassis will be superb, but the engine, sadly still lacking in power. However, with the lift on the token system, it will be interesting to say the least.
McHonda will be very much improved, but won’t be there in 2017, will possibly fighting for third with the likes of Ferrari. Well Ferrari will be Ferrari always a disappointment every season for a long time.
All this talks I think we have forgotten a couple of teams, Force India and Torro Rosso. TR was hampered by the 2015 engine with no upgrade for the whole season. They will be very much improve here in 2017 with the Renault engine and the new regs. With Technical Director James Key there, you can be assured of exciting developments and for the new regs.

41

@ahlapski…i am gobsmacked at your insight. The cars aren’t even built and you already know what their performances are. Please explain where this knowledge comes from as i’d like to tap into it?

42

Mark my words, mate, and come back here at the end of the 2017 season and tell me how many I got right.
No point just being safe and say something that is middle of the road and being boring. Not that I’m saying you are.

43

@ ahlapski…you still haven’t divulged your sources ? So, is it wild speculation or not, based on what?

44

He’s basically repeating what all the press have been recycling for weeks, or even months now. So yes, wild speculation!

45

I think you need to find your won sources of infos. Everyone here has his own views and opinions. These are mine and I am sure you you have yours too.
Is it a wild speculation ? We will see come the end of the season. But I can assured you they are not, every point there is a reasoning behind it. No point dwelling on thiese points, because I have move on to something else now. Later. Peace.
Oh BTW, JA on F1 in the early was a wealth of insight infos, sadly this is not the case now. That’s why I rarely come here.
I was one of the very first batch of people subscribed here when this site started, I think it is 2008/2009 something like that. And I even purchase the year book from JA, too.

46

Would be good to see the Mclaren/Honda package up there mate. Big improvements from the previous year. Alonso and I think Vandoorne is a very exciting prospect! The old cliche though those few extra tenths to get you to the pointy end of the grid are the hardest to find…here’s hoping for some epic battles this year.

47

They are coming back from a massive upheaval with Allison leaving last summer

You’ll struggle to find anyone apart from Marchionne who thinks Allison leaving was a good thing

I suspect the engine will be terrific and the chassis less so

48

James can you explain why Marchione fired him, it seems like shooting your gun at your leg…why did Ferrari do such a thing

49

I don’t think he was fired. He left because of personal circumstances. He had to go back to England to look after his children after the loss of his wife.

50
Torchwood Mobile

@ahlapski

Allison was fired.

Marchionne was making personnel changes that Allison knew would not help, and he spoke up about them.

Marchionne fired him for that.

51

I think Valtteri is going to make a great rear-gunner for Lewis! Probably better than Nico who was quick but not ‘that’ great at defending IMO. Val is a stubbornly defensive driver and he can keep cool under pressure-a REAL Fin…;)…There will also be a few tracks he might have the legs on Lewis also…I like the guy I wish him well…I HATE this phrase but he really does look like ‘the cat that got the cream’…lol…

52

I think he will do well too, mate.

53

Congrats to Valtteri, he now has the toughest job in F1.
Will it make him or break him? He’s been referred to as a journeyman by posters on this site. Now we’ll know.

54

Actually, it won’t be as tough as you think. Purely because LH is rated so highly, Bottas doesn’t have to beat LH, he just have to match him and occasionally picking up a win or two when LH has an off day. Consistency is his trait, Bottas, he will do just that.
This will be the only expectation of him, but he will have to make certain he is there when it happen, otherwise, it will be hasta la vista, baby.

55

He will either flop like Kovalainen or blossom like Hakkinen.

56
Clarks4WheelDrift

… or blossom then flop then blossom then flop then blossom, phew, like Kimi 😉

57

Man, you are not saying anything constructive.

58
Clarks4WheelDrift

Good luck to Valty, get in tomorrow and nick Lewis’s batch of good engineers from 2015 😉

Prove to us all you’re not the boring, safe, roadblock backup driver option.

Does Toto Briatore get a load more cash for running his boy in the team?

59

Just noticed that Bottas is 11/4 second favourite for the WDC with William Hills. They obviously don’t think he is much worse than Rosberg! Corals have him 4th at 7/2 so perhaps they do think he is worse – or they have not caught up with todays news! I don’t think the 7/2 will last very long.

60

I think it is too short. Fact is he won’t be WDC winner in 2017. I’ll take your bet.

61

Well I’m not making the book but if for example Valtieri wins a couple of early races and gets inside Lewis’ head especially if Lewis thinks his ‘unreliabilty’ has carried over and remembering that Bottas is ‘Totos protege’ then anything is possible.

62

I dont think you can get inside Lewis’ head that easily.. or can you? Thinking Bottas as a Totos protege is such a childish approach.. But its Lewis you never know..

63

My prediction for Bottas? Multiple podiums, at least one pole position and two or more victories. He is an excellent driver in the tradition of all the great Finns.

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