Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Hungaroring, 2019

Mercedes will give Bottas a “soft landing” if he loses drive

2019 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Valtteri Bottas will be given a “soft landing” by Mercedes if they choose not to keep him for the 2020 F1 season, team principal Toto Wolff has said.

Esteban Ocon is under consideration for promotion to the team next year. Wolff has previous said both drivers have strong claims to the seat.

But speaking to media at the Hungaroring on Sunday evening he stressed they will assist whichever driver does not join Lewis Hamilton at the team next year with their 2020 plans.

“We have responsibility for the juniors and for the ones who are in the car with us right now. We’re not going to do anything that is going to make it harder for them.

“Whatever we decide we’ll consider what are the options for the driver to go elsewhere. If it’s for Esteban to progress [elsewhere], to make it back one day in a Mercedes; or if it’s for Valtteri to have a ‘soft landing’, because he deserves it, he had great speed yesterday.”

Wolff said his disappointment at Bottas’s second poor result in a row last weekend detracted from the satisfaction he took from Hamilton’s victory.

“You don’t see my jumping up and down because I am so sad for him. He was so pumped since yesterday his qualifying performance was brilliant.

“He was in the right frame of mind before the race and then the unfortunate incident in flat spotting the tyre, touching with Lewis, touching with [Charles] Leclerc and suddenly all the work is gone. That is just awful for him and I am sorry for him.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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100 comments on “Mercedes will give Bottas a “soft landing” if he loses drive”

  1. I can’t see Esteban as a better driver than Valtteri, but I can’t wait to see if he could ruin Lewis’s mood with his mouth.

    1. @ruliemaulana I think the same, it’s going to be fun to watch.

    2. @ruliemaulana Bottas has been the perfect #2 driver yet Toto always makes it sound as if they want Bottas to beat Hamilton. Bottas has never signed a multi-year for mercedes, shamelessly keeping bottas on a tight leash.
      It’s true that everyone has a seat to spare for Max, unwise for him to leave RB but this prospect and Bottas moving somewhere else are the only ways that could prevent Bottas from keeping his seat.

      1. @peartree – Merc says things like this in order to eat its cake by being able to say they let their drivers race and don’t favor one driver, and still have it [the cake] because they know Bottas will not challenge Hamilton over the course of the season.

        They get to appear the exact same as when they had Rosberg, but Bottas is not Rosberg. I don’t think Ocon will be either. I want to see Max in the other Mercedes. Barring something that, 2020 is becoming less interesting for me.

        And before any replies say Hamilton is way better than Rosberg. I’m not arguing that at all. All I am saying is that Rosberg actually pushed Hamilton and made it interesting.

        1. @hobo I think 2020 could be more exciting than these last 4 races if (read when ;) RBR/Honda/Max are even closer to Mercedes, and perhaps even Ferrari gets themselves sorted and are closer too. Of course Merc could take another leap in performance but one can reasonably wonder if they still have such a leap in them with that car. I too don’t see Ocon challenging LH like Nico did. Hopefully Max will be here to do that though. Really stoked about the second half of this season.

          1. @robbie – Very possible. But I think I’ve run out of optimism. We’ve been in these regs (admittedly with some variation) since 2014. Every change, Mercedes gets it right. Sometimes other teams get it right too, but even then, Merc doesn’t lose.

            I don’t like changing the rules to stop dominance (2005 vs Ferrari; 2014 vs RBR), and it can certainly backfire. But it seems like the only possible way for anything to change is for everything to change.

            Please pardon my current bout of F1-Nihilism.

          2. @hobo Fair comment and of course thank goodness we all have our own fingerprint, and if that’s how you feel, it is what it is.

            Yeah for sure many have thought for quite a while now that Mercedes would have a lock on things, including in 2014 when the token system had many opining that Mercedes domination would be locked in for a time. But then there is the rules stability concept and how that can close up the teams, and we certainly haven’t heard much about any ‘anti-outwashing’ wings or anything for next year, and let’s see what next year’s tires bring. RBR could surprise.

            As I see it, the changes in 2021 are going to be unprecedented in terms of car philosophy. I predict that for a change no team will dominate, at least not with any vast margin that makes them seem unbeatable over a season.

            Where I am right now is that I’ve been a Max fan since he started and I am having a blast watching his career, all the while accepting that LH/Merc are the dominant force again this year. But the racing has been good. What will be better is when we can get this kind of better racing only with more cars involved and without the phoniness of drs in play. Far more generally fought-for corners, not that I advocate quantity over quality. Brawn’s hope is for close battles, but not necessarily multitudinous passes, the art of defending back in play where drs has taken that away at certain corners.

            I guess for me, we’re so close to vast changes that I think are going to be great that I’m just stoked in general at F1’s pending transformation, and all the while I’m enjoying Max’s blossoming, along with Honda, RBR always being quite solid on their own with Newey there, driver or Pu aside.

  2. In a way, I hope Mercedes gets rid of BOT at the end of the season. I mean, if Mercedes doesn’t have a title challenger in some other team, maybe there will be an internal title challenge. There’s no doubt now that BOT is no threat to HAM so, better give a chance to Ocon… the way Ferrari did with LEC.

    1. yes, or maybe they could also try and poach Perez from Racing Point or call back Wherlein from Formula E

      Ocon won’t be better than Bottas…

      1. @johnmilk He might not be for 2020, but I have little doubts that he has a higher ceiling.

        1. Doubt it @mashiat haven’t seen anything extraordinary from Ocon yet. Anything that makes me think he will be a star

          More press than anything really. And Netflix helped a lot too

          1. John P Wiederecht
            7th August 2019, 19:14

            Ocon did smoke Verstappen in F3

      2. Don’t think so either, but I am pretty convinced he is better than Wehrlein.

  3. Toto has big dilemma: if Bottas becomes available, Horner will sign him up.
    Bottas will bring some merc intel, but more importantly, it will give RBR the badly needed experienced nr2 driver who will bring in the points and not be in Max’ way.

    It’s so logical, but on no website I see this suggestion.why?

    1. That would be good. BOT can still remain in F1, not Gasly tho.

      1. @mg1982 GAS has zero support than RBR, so why would RBR support BOT which would make him too strong for max? Have you thought of that?

    2. Because generally, RBR don’t sign up drivers outside of their young driver program.

      1. RBR actually does have an history of signing drivers outside their YDP. Not in recent years though, but that was because there was a good pipeline of talent. Is there now?
        After last year’s P4 in Bahrain everyone would scream that Gasly would put a fight to Verstappen. Is he? So let’s not carried away yet with a few decent performance of Albon, as he made some rookie mistakes too. Even Kvyatt is way too inconsistent. That would still be a good lineup for STR in 2020 and possibly 2021 tbh.

        It’d be good for harmony to get a proven nr2 in that seat. Surely Bottas can accept ‘Kimi-status’ at RBR after Merc gives him the boot. Because for Bottas the only alternative might be Williams…

    3. I agree with SpeedyWeedy.

      RB will sign Bottas if he is available. Bottas will be a more reliable number 2 than Gasly. In fact, if you consider all the drivers RB has in their stable just now, Max aside of course, one would argue that Bottas is a much better proposition.

      I have a strange feeling that RB are waiting on Merc’s announcement with regards to Bottas and Ocon. Thats probably the only reason why the Hulk deal hasn’t been progressed. TBH, I’d rather see Hulk go to RB. I think even he knows at this stage that winning the championship is probably something that will never happen for him. With RB, he can challenge for the podium regularly (which in itself would be a win for him) and perhaps pick up the odd win. It will also give us all chance to see what he do in a front running car.

  4. BOT is a better driver than OCO. BOT is close to top 5, OCO is not even top 10. Would be interesting to see OCO in a hopefully much improved Williams next year vs RUS. BOT is a perfect #2 for Merc.

    1. Bottas is barely close to top 5 and that’s even a stretch. He is a solid midfield driver that isn’t incompetent to bring good points and the occasional win in a top seat, but definatly not the one who will win a world championship even if all the team is behind him.

      I generaly “grade” the drivers based on their ability to win the WDC (the following are mostly “known quantity” drivers, the youngsters like Leclerc and Norris, although impressive, can’t be graded properly just yet)
      Grade 1 (championship material): Hamilton, Vettel, Verstappen, Alonso
      Grade 2 (very good drivers that on their best day they can win the WDC): Ricciardo, Rosberg, Raikkonen, Button
      Grade 3 (solid midfield drivers that if presented the chance with a top team they could win a few races): Perez, Hulkenberg, Bottas, Sainz, etc…
      Grade 4 (pay drivers/waste of seat): Lance Stroll

      Bottas got his chance with a top team and proved that he isn’t a WDC material. In a midfield team like Renault or Haas he would do great and bring good points without dropping the ball constantly (cough*Haas drivers*cough). Ocon is yet unknown. Sure he is definitely a Grade 3 level driver, solid points collector in the midfield, but it remains to see whether he can challenge for the WDC eventually, if given the seat. If i was Toto, i’d give Ocon the second seat and let Russel mature properly in the midfied for 1-2 seasons before he replaces either an underperfoming Ocon or a retiring Hamilton.

      1. Jose Lopes da Silva
        7th August 2019, 11:20

        Your analysis by grades is quite interesting. We don’t see it very often done by specialists or site owners. Usually people make a Ten Best at the end of the season and that’s it. Hope Keith or Dieter could take on it.

        I would be a little more open regarding the grades, because it all depends on the circumstances. Eddie Irvine got close of WDC in 1999, but History shown that he was really a Grade 3. I think Bottas is a Grade 2; he was ahead of Massa, who was not that slow, and he would be ahead of Barrichello or a similar driver in the 2009 circumstances. Definitely not a Grade 1, of course. I also believe that Carlos Sainz is a Grade 2, in spite of what he has achieved against Hulkenberg last year.

        How would you rate Webber? I would be WDC but he was not in his best day in Abu Dhabi/2010.

        Finally, I think Ericsson is a Grade 4, not Stroll. A grade should be given to actual F1 drivers, not those people who own their teams and cannot be fired. There are 19 F1 drivers under these conditions, today.

        1. I don’t know about Irvine because i wasn’t watching F1 at that time.
          Bottas is definatly Grade 3 for me. Even if his teammate at Mercedes was Rosberg in a hypothetical senario, he would still lose by some margin. Just the fact that in the 2,5 years he has been in the Merc, has just 5 wins, while Verstappen in a Red Bull Honda/Renault in the same time has 6, says a lot.
          Massa before the accident was a solid Grade 2 driver (the almost champion of 2008 :P), afterwards a solid Grade 3.
          Barrichello (although i only started watching F1 since 2009) was probably at best Grade 2. Maybe if things were different at his prime he could win a WDC somehow.
          Sainz has yet to prove himself and with a midfield car, unless he can produce some big results, in my opinion he would stay in Grade 3 for now.
          Webber Grade 3. Sure he lost by a tiny bit in 2010, but he never even came close to beating Vettel the following years.
          Kubica (pre accident) Grade 2, (after accident) cannot be graded sufficiently. Maybe in a midfield car we could see, but he isn’t setting the world on fire.

          As for Button (who @bukester refers), in my opinion he is the Ultimate Grade 2 driver. He will never remebered among the greats, but on his day (usually the rainy/damp ones. Canada 2011 was epic) he was almost unbeatable. He maximized his 2009 Brawn advantage at the start of the year and won easily that title and he was very competitive against Hamilton in McLaren. In the last decade he is the only one capable of dominating in the challenging conditions along with Verstappen (Brazil 2016).

          1. Jose Lopes da Silva
            8th August 2019, 12:04

            @esteban below is asking about GRO grade. Another good sign that we should have an analysis like this for every driver. Black, go for it.
            (Still not convinced about Bottas. Success in F1 depends very much on the circumstances and on the opportunities. I think Bottas would be F1 champion in a Brawn in 2009 next to Barrichello. However, I can agree that Button would have more than 5 victories in these 2,5 years with Mercedes.)

          2. Jose Lopes da Silva
            8th August 2019, 12:13

            You could take the summer break to check out the 1999 season and find how it was possible that Irvine was almost WDC, and why did he fail.

          3. @Jose Lopes da Silva I think if Bottas was alongside Barrichello in 2009 Brawn, Vettel would have sneaked past both of them and grab that title.
            As for the class of 2019: (I placed in brackets the ones that are still too young and we can’t form a definitely opinion yet but would probably fit in these categories at the moment)
            Grade 1 (championship material): Hamilton, Vettel, Verstappen
            Grade 2 (potential championship material): Ricciardo, Raikkonen, [Leclerc, still developing]
            Grade 3 (solid midfield): Perez, Hulkenberg, Bottas, Sainz, Magnussen, Kvyat, [Gasly, promoted too young to Red Bull / lookes even worse compared to Verstappen, similar situation with Kvyat in 2016, just not ready/capable for a top drive] , [Albon], [Russell & Norris, possible future Grade 1-2]
            Grade 4 (unfit for F1): Stroll, Grosjean (generaly, only 2013 Grosjean was a solid Grade 3), Kubica (at the moment after 8 years out of F1, back in 2010 he was solid Grade 2)

            As for Irvine… as far as i know about the 1999 season, he seemed similar to Barrichello’s 2009, a solid Grade 3 driver that only exceptional circumstances allowed him to fight for the title that year. A Grade 3 driver in a top seat alongside a Grade 1-2 driver can only hope to play supporting role unless something unexpected happes like Schumacher’s broken leg or Brawn surprise 2009 advantage

      2. Button was a ‘grade 3’ driver at best. The most overrated driver ever to don a firesuit.

      3. @black You can add Kubica to Grade 4 as well.

      4. So, GRO doesn’t even make it to your grading system.

    2. I rate bottas higher than ocon simply because it is much more difficult to almost match hamilton than it is to almost match perez. I don’t really see what is so special about ocon. If ocon had beaten perez then sure but he did not do that either. At best ocon is a lateral move from bottas. And how good is perez anyways? We all know how good hamilton is and bottas is not far behind.

      1. @socksolid this is probably a fair assessment, given the limited data we have. alternatively, the f1metrics website attempts to compare drivers from different teams based on who has beaten who in the same car (it’s more complicated than that, such as factoring in the quality of the car, but that’s the gist). last year it rated bottas 19th (!) and ocon 8th, although both were beaten by their team mates. bottas ranked poorly last year because he got thrashed by hamilton and he had the best car (according to the model). ocon ranked higher because he was close to perez (without a couple of big points scores, perez would be much lower down, but he still earned those, so moot point).

        i think that model is a bit off – bottas had an up and down season, but it’s very difficult to imagine everyone on the grid doing better in that seat (apart from hartley in the model) – so it feels flawed from a sense check. ocon was quicker than perez and what he lacked in race craft can be put down to experience, so the question is, would he do better than bottas? i think mercedes would be taking one hell of a shot in the dark to replace bottas with ocon, but teams do make funny decisions. bottas has had his chance against hamilton and he’s only rarely matched or bettered him, so perhaps thems the breaks.

      2. @socks old

        Exactly. These guys underestimate Hamilton and it skews their whole rating system. Bottas is just as good as Rosberg, Ocon not even as good as Perez and crashes too often, especially into his teammate.

        1. Agree that bottas looks as good as rosberg on his day.

  5. Sounds more like Mercedes will give Bottas a “soft landing” WHEN he loses drive

    1. @matthijs
      The title makes it sound like this, yes. But if you only look at Wolff’s words, you’re probably going to agree with me in that the title ventures deep into clickbait territory.

      1. I don’t like using the word ‘clickbait’. I think that only a few drivers would do a better job than Bottas alongside Haniltonso I think the team will be reasonably happy with Bottas’s performance so far. If they were in the situation that Red Bull is in now (too little talents in the pond), Bottas would keep his seat for 2020 surely. But they have Ocon and Russell as potential prospects.

        1. Not sure if it was intended or not, but Hamiltonso is a fantastic name for the 2007 McLaren driver pairing.

      2. @nase I don’t see that. Wolff has openly stated Bottas’s place is in question and now he’s the one who says Bottas would deserve a ‘soft landing’ if he loses the place. So the title is entirely factual. And it’s not a distortion since Mercedes clearly want to make this issue public knowledge. Why so is more speculative.

  6. it would be great if Mercedes take Kimi, that way we can have exciting title fight and Mercedes will get huge amount of fans and popularity

    1. Kimi will not go to Mercedes, he already did that during McLaren days, he’s done with that chapter of his career.
      For 2020 season Kimi will either return to Ferrari, or will be signed to RedBull.

      1. John Richards (@legardforpresident)
        7th August 2019, 9:18

        What on Earth are you on about? Kimi is locked into Alfa till 2020. Beyond that, he’ll probably retire. Let’s be very frank, I love Kimi and all that he stands for. But let’s call a spade a spade, Kimi isn’t interested in the big teams now.He hated the amount of PR he had to do there. And now that he’s a father now, he loves Alfa because of the relaxed culture and the of PR he has to do .

        1. John Richards (@legardforpresident)
          7th August 2019, 9:20

          *that last line should read— lack of PR he has to do.

        2. If Kimi has done anything, he has shown the world that he is still a top driver capable of getting maximum results even with mediocre equipment. GIO is young and hungry, yet a so-called “has been” is wiping the floor with him.

          You could see it in Arrivabene’s emotions when Kimi finally won in USA 2018, the team loved Kimi, but corporate politics forced them to favor the primary driver. Ferrari constantly put Kimi down and blatantly favoured their golden boys Alonso, and then Vettel. Given fair treatment, Kimi would have been champion in 2018.

          1. A truthful assessment. Rare indeed these days..

    2. I am sorry. Kimi is not on Hamilton level. They need someone as close as possible.

      They have essentially 3 options Alonso, Verstappen, Vettel (ordered by avaliability).

      Ocon is a safe choice, but nothing about him says he would stomp his authority on Hamilton. He might not even outperform Bottas. Very hard to say considering he was out of the car for a year.

      Likewise RedBull should poach Bottas, they have the same issues, except they have a benefit of a very young star driver. Hamilton certainly will be further from his peak in a few years, this makes Mercedes issue even worse.

      1. alonso already teamed up with hamilton once, we all know what happened then so that will never be tried again…

        Verstappen will never leave RbR to be a second driver somewhere else. So that will not happen either.

        Vettel is with ferrari because he wants to win a championship in a ferrari. He isn’t interested in the best car, he is interested in winning with the reds…

        1. This is boring, top drivers are strong enough to become number 1 wherever they go, if schumacher decided to go to mclaren after ferrari wasn’t successful for a few years, do you think hakkinen would’ve stayed number 1 for long? As soon as schumacher proved much better he’d have become number 1 himself, I don’t see a driver like verstappen playing number 2 anywhere, he would outperform the number 1 and take over.

    3. @djordjeps Raikkonen was soundly beaten by Alonso and Vettel at Ferrari, he wouldn’t be able to challenge Hamilton.

      1. And still he beat Alonso and Hamilton for the championship. Also, he’s the last Ferrari champion.
        (Not saying he would beat Hamilton in the same car, it seems he has lost interest in top teams).

    4. @djordjeps Kimi going to Mercedes would be a loose – loose situation for those teams. He doesn’t have the edge anymore to support Mercedes WCC fight and at the same time it would be an invaluable loss of knowledge for Sauber. I doubt it would ever happen.

    5. Kimi is slower then Bottas though so it wouldn’t be a improvement. Maybe better pr but thats about it Hamilton would destroy Kimi as bad as Alonso did

    6. @djordjeps Hamilton will eat Raikkonen alive. This is a guy who was easily beaten by Alonso and a below-par Vettel. Despite having a car capable of fighting for the title, he managed to get one win in two seasons.

  7. The thing to do would be Loan Ocon out for a year and give Bottas another year. I think he deserves it. Lewis would annihilate Ocon if he gets the seat, so then Merc would be in the same situation next year. I would put Russell in the second seat if they want Bottas out.

    1. Yes, Russell is the more obvious choice to me. Ocon wasn’t much better than Perez, who failed when asked to replace Lewis at McLaren, so no improvement on Bottas. Russell is young but has proven himself in lower formula, beating Norris last year, and outqualifying Kubica this year. Seems willing to learn without making trouble, not sure the same could be said of Ocon, why employ a driver who might upset their WDC campaign?

      1. Too bad russell is stuck at williams. Because russell is stuck at williams then merc could simply put ocon at williams as well and have them duel it out at the back of the field. Then if the better driver has done good enough job then put him to merc to replace bottas.

        1. This makes the most sense. Put Bottas on another one year contract at Merc and let Russell and Ocon duke it out at Williams. I’m sure Kubica won’t get a contract for 2020, so the seat will be available. Putting Ocon alongside Hamilton, especially after a year on the bench, could very well kill his career.

    2. @johns23 I disagree. Why on earth would Bottas deserve a fourth chance? It’s not like he’ll step his game up overnight? It’s his 7th year in F1 and not much will change next year I think.

      Also I don’t see why Ocon would be ‘anihilated’ by Lewis, my guess is that he’d fare much better than Bottas.
      In the end we agree on Russel. I think it would be sensible to put Ocon in the seat, but wouldn’t mind should it be Russel instead – even if I think Ocon would do a better job.

      1. Why do you expect ocon to give trouble to hamilton when he was barely able to keep up with perez?

    3. @johns23 – Why does Bottas deserve another year? If you were saying he’s an ideal #2 driver for Mercedes as he provides reliable points but does not rock the boat. Okay. Agreed. But as a driver alone, he has 5 wins in 2.5 seasons in the best car. A car that has 23 wins in that span under Hamilton.

      The position may suit his performance if that is what Merc wants (and I think they probably do), but I don’t think he deserves more time.

      1. @hobo – Yes fair enough. I just think from the angle of throwing Ocon in because Bottas isnt performing would be a bit hasty. He really hasn’t been that bad this year. You could argue he was very unlucky in Hungry. Also for Ocon’s sake, throwing him straight into a Mercedes with Hamilton could be a disaster for him as i think Bottas is better driver.

  8. If they Put Ocon in the 2nd car, what does that mean for Bottas?
    Where can he go? He has multiple wins and pole positions to his name, which means he costs a lot of money.

    Who will be wanting to pay a huge sum for him? Don’t get me wrong, he’s a good Driver. But definitely not champion material.

    He will have to take quite a cut in salary, if he wishes to stay in F1. The most likely option I see is Haas.
    The team is fed up with their current drivers and need someone experienced.

    1. @srga91 Red Bull, Renault and Haas are all potential destinations for Bottas.

  9. Hakk The Rack
    7th August 2019, 9:01

    Seems they have started to prepare the world regarding Bottas’ future.

  10. John Richards (@legardforpresident)
    7th August 2019, 9:21

    I doubt Mercedes will disrupt the team dynamic and put Ocon in the other car for fear that if they do, he could upset the apple cart and their star diva.

  11. RocketTankski
    7th August 2019, 9:25

    soft Bottxit confirmed?

  12. Maybe Bottas needs to be replaced given how he sometimes gets into a zone where he struggles to bring the 1-2 Mercedes usually deserve. But is Ocon the one who should replace him? Why is Ocon so highly rated?

    He tends to bring a negative envrionment in the team because he’s prone to bouncing wheels with teammates (as he did with both Werhlein and Perez) or the leader of a race when trying to unlap himself. Other than that, I just don’t think he showed enough speed and skill – he couldn’t beat Perez on points – to be worth all the risks, especially in such a big team.

  13. RIC to Mercedes
    OCO to Renault
    BOT replaces Kubica?
    everyone would have a relevant benchmark to that year

  14. Bottas is going out of F1, they are just sweetwording it. Maybe they can stick him into FE or perhaps sponsor a wrc car for him. Whatever they do theres little reason for Mercedes to pay for a drive in Williams a couple of years before he will get sacked anyway.

  15. Well, put a bow on that then. Give it up for AMG, it’s a move and a half to go from a GP winner down to “potential future performer”, especially given that HAM is confirmed for 2020 only.
    No worries for BOT landing a good drive, RBR/REN/MCL and given a certain speculation even FER are not going to be putting themselves out of contention for his talent.
    I do want to see OCO on the grid tho, l think he has all the tools to be good.
    We do need atleast three more (competitive) teams on the grid, we need to see the good get a chance. The cream will rise given the chance, look at VER, LEC in the recent past.

  16. I see it as they got more to lose than they’ve got to gain. Ocon seems incapable of being a team player and more destructive than he is good. What has he really done historically to prove himself, really?
    Bottas gets the points and secures them the championship.

    Unless, Lewis is on the way out after 2020 so they want some who’s ’potentially’ good. But in that case surely Verstappen isn’t going to be hard to sign with a proper paycheck. Honestly.

  17. So Toto, you’ll arrange a soft landing for Bottas just like you did for Ocon?

    Poor bugger will be driving the simulator – that seems to be his idea of a soft landing.

  18. it’s looking to the future. Red bull and Ferrari could be bigger threats next season and without Mercedes performance advantage, Bottas is a weakness. They need someone like Ocon who is a wheel to wheel racer. The amount of times I’ve shouted at the television when Bottas seems to get stuck behind slower cars.

  19. How many points would Bottas now have if he didn’t have a team mate? In other words, if Hamilton hadn’t been taking points away from him all season, and Bottas inherited some of those points because he finished races just behind Hamilton, then would Bottas be miles ahead of his nearest rival, Verstappen, on 181 points?

    I ask this because I am almost certain that Hamilton will retire soon. And Toto needs to find a leading driver replacement. And that replacement has to have time to bed into the team before Hamilton leaves. Unless it is Bottas. But it really does not sound like it’s going to be Bottas from what we’re hearing out of Toto’s mouth. Which makes my initial question irrelevant, really.

    It’s going to be Ocon, isn’t it. He’s going to have 2020 to get up to speed alongside Hamilton before Hamilton potentially retires. And then, if they wanted to, they could bring back Valtteri ‘Soft-Landing’ Bottas as Ocon’s teammate. Because he really is an excellent #2.

    1. @shimks – This is a much more difficult hypothetical than it seems because would this replacement for Hamilton be just behind Bottas or slower than Verstappen?

      I looked at one scenario, the latter. Given that Bottas is not right behind Hamilton every race I assumed that the Hamilton replacement would be slower than both Bottas and Verstappen. So basically, every race where Bottas or Verestappen were behind Hamilton, I moved them up a spot and added the points difference. In this scenario, Bottas would be leading 231 to 213; an 18 point lead.

      In addition, I don’t think Hamilton will retire soon. I think he has 5 prime years left, easy. But who knows.

      1. Hamilton won’t retire until he has 8 WDC, maybe more. And Mercedes will totally support this, the publicity would be huge. Lewis thrives on competition and Verstappen and/or Leclerc in equally fast cars will bring out the best in him.

        1. Many thanks for doing the maths, @hobo. That just goes to show that Bottas isn’t strong enough!

          As for retirement, I’m not so sure I agree with you and @greenflag. F1 takes up so much of your life and I get the feeling that Lewis wants to savour many more things while he’s still young. I think he’s going to get more involved in music, fashion, and a myriad of other things. I think he’ll want to get 1 over Schumi’s record and that will be it.

          1. It appears that Hamilton disagrees with you, but hey, what does he know?

  20. I wouldn’t trust anything Toto Wolff says.

    Either way where’s he going to give Bottas a ‘soft landing?’ when he can’t even ‘land’ Ocon. If Bottas leaves, where’s he going? Back to Williams, going from the fastest car to the slowest? To Ferrari only if Vettel leaves? To Red Bull if RBR choose to hire outside their programme? His options are more limited than Ocon’s.

    1. Why don’t you trust Toto? It is like he says, Mercedes really is the underdog :P

  21. No harm in trying Ocon. He has the potential to be as good as Max, Lec, Sainz with more experience and in future replace Lewis as the senior driver in the team when Lewis retires or goes to Ferrari.
    Bottas has been given 3 years and thats enough. Time to give opportunity and develop a young new talent especially under Lewis Hamilton.

  22. If a soft landing is a Williams ride, I’d rather hit the ground straight!

    That said, if I were Gunther Steiner, I’d be calling Toto every day. Bottas at Haas would be a great move for them.

    1. Bottas cant even handle Hamilton so Magnusen would eat him alive.

      1. who says Magnusen gets to stay?

      2. @rethla if Kmag stays and I’m.noy sure he will, he’s just slower than Bottas. He’d not be bale to pull.any ball-sucking trick

        1. That remains to be seen, nevertheless Bottas wont have an easy time with a teammate like that.

  23. If you could pick anyone right now for Mercedes next year, Ricciardo would be ideal. A good team player, fast, excellent racer and proven winner, experienced – the best driver, I think, between Hamilton and the new generation of top drivers (Verstappen, Leclerc) and potentially top (including Russell who Wolff says he doesn’t want to risk burning out).

    1. I completely agree with you. I don’t understand why Mr. Toto Wolff thinks that he must choose only between Bottas and Ocon. Bottas is one of the best (if not the best) team player. His “qualifying session” skills are Ok. His weakness is a race pace. But if Mercedes feel they need a better driver than Bottas for the next year, then Ricciardo must their best option. Yesterday I went through 2018 season comparing Ocon and Perez performances in qualifying and in races. I cannot say that Ocon was better than Perez, even by the points at the end of the season it was 62-49 in favour of Perez. Ocon deserves a place in a midfield team, but he will destroy a microclimate in Mercedes and will not be able to compensate that by winning many races. Even Alonso would be a better option than Ocon in this case.

      1. @bulgarian They could (should) have gone for Ricciardo last year. TBH I don’t know why Wolff is going on about dropping Bottas this year either when he’s produced the same level of performance, more or less, as any other time. And now Ricciardo is apparently stuck at Renault for next year.

        My guess is that Hamilton, presuming he wins the WDC this year and it looks good at the start of next season, will make a switch of team (Ferrari or back to McLaren as a swansong) or simply leave F1. Surely it will be enough time and success for him at Mercedes, he’ll want some new challenge. If so Mercedes really do need to plan carefully (though I expect MV to move over to them if HAM leaves and Mercedes are still the top car).

  24. They’ll put Ocon in the seat and Lewis will eat him alive. Then they’ll offer Rosberg $50M to come back in 2021. :)

  25. I have an idea. After every race, all the drivers names get put in a hat and the names are drawn for the car they will be in next race. Or if that is too random and someone could end up in a Mercedes 5 times and win the WDC. How about 10 teams, 20 race season, you have have to drive each team’s cars twice. And that is random.

    Something.

    1. Yes, would be fun.

  26. Bottas isn’t to lose the drive, he is in the perfect position to not refuse the teams no#2 position. Perfect for the team so MB will never ditch him unless he insists on being permitted to race Lewis.

  27. Bottas is losing that seat, I’m certain of it.

  28. Be nice to see Ham get a genuine teammate, it’s absurd that hes been gifted so many empty wins and championships when he doesn’t deserve them! A Senna, Prost or Schumacher he is not….

    1. What sir…. Hamilton has had the hardest teammates on the grid by a mile that is a fact. Alonso, Kovalienen, Button, Rosberg, Bottas. 3 world champions as teammates. And if he had Schumi protection he would have won the WC in 07 aswell. Name a driver who has had tougher competiton in F1 in the last 2 decades? Because you can’t.

      1. One bad teammate in his carear Kovalienen the rest very capable, not like Bottas is a slouch isit either else how does he beat Hamilton in qualifying. So Hamilton actually does work to overtake, Hamilton is easily top 2 driver on the grid him and Max beats any teammate currently over a season with equal reliability that is just Facts.

        While the 4x WC is having to use every bit of energy to beat a 2 season F1 novice and barely ahead in points despite favourable strategy and team orders the top 2 are beating there teammates by nearly a lap. Hilarious how quiet Vettel fans are this year. You do know Hamilton won the WC in a slower car last year don’t you? You should look into last season at all the data Ferrari were quicker.

        1. No they wherent but they did had the car to at least challenge Mercedes and they throw it away.

          1. As long as they have vettel it’s hard to do otherwise!

  29. I mean do people think Perez is better than Hamilton or something lol… Hamilton would not be fighting life and death to impress like Ocon had to with Checo, Ocon and Perez was like Grosjean and KMag there was no differnce between them and Hamilton would destroy checo.

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