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Toto Wolff and Mercedes ready for 'bigger challenges ahead' in 2017

'We will tackle new rules, welcome a new race driver and take on even stronger rivals' says Wolff in Christmas message to staff

Toto Wolff has told his Mercedes team to recharge for the 'bigger challenges ahead' in his Christmas message to the Silver Arrows staff.

Mercedes won their third successive championship double in 2016 but have since been rocked by the retirement of world champion Nico Rosberg.

The team are also braced for the departure of Paddy Lowe, their technical chief, who is expected to join Williams.

According to Wolff, Mercedes 'were tested at each turn by unexpected challenges' during their latest record-breaking year of dominance but have emerged 'stronger and more capable to face the road ahead'.

Wolff added: "Our position in the spotlight puts every decision taken and every word spoken under an intense microscope. But there has been enough talking now. This is the period for calm and considered reflection."

F1 in 2017: Schedule and line-ups

Mercedes are expected to face a formidable challenge in 2017 when F1 will embark on a 'rules refresh' and Wolff concluded his remarks with a rallying cry to team personnel.

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"We will tackle new rules, welcome a new race driver and take on even stronger rivals," he wrote. "It will test our team's character, strength and capability. Bring it on!"

Mercedes have already confirmed they will not name Rosberg's successor until 2017 but are widely believed to be determined to sign Valtteri Bottas from Williams as Lewis Hamilton's team-mate.

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