Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2019

Bottas considering ‘plan B and plan C’ in case he loses Mercedes seat

2020 F1 season

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Valtteri Bottas admits he has begun considering his options if he is unable to keep his seat at Mercedes for the 2020 F1 season.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff is considering whether to replace Bottas with junior driver Esteban Ocon. He has said Bottas will be given a “soft landing” if he does lose his drive.

Following Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix Bottas said he had also put thought into where else he might drive next year.

“Of course when you’re in that kind of situation and when you still want to race in F1 you need to have a ‘plan B’, possibly a ‘plan C’,” he said. “So for sure I’m thinking about stuff, talking about stuff. So it’s always good to have different plans and now we wait.”

Bottas said the uncertainty over his future has added to the pressure of competing.

“For sure it’s not easy,” he said in response to a question from RaceFans. “That’s the thing in this sport: finding the limit, calculating the risks just enough. Pushing hard, trying to take the opportunities but not to fuck up like today. That’s how it goes.

“But for sure, when contract-wise, you’re on the limit, it never helps. Some people might think that some drivers perform better under pressure, when things are in the limit, but for sure for me it doesn’t help.”

However Bottas said his situation hasn’t been a distraction during the races. “I can’t say that going into turn one I was thinking about it, I don’t think so.

“I was very hungry for the win, no matter if there’s contract talks or not. I wanted to win this race and I wanted to take the risk. It just didn’t go quite as planned. It could have been a lot different, we’re speaking about centimetres here and there, that’s how it goes.”

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61 comments on “Bottas considering ‘plan B and plan C’ in case he loses Mercedes seat”

  1. Plan A = Accept another one-year contract
    Plan B = Back to Williams
    Plan C = Cross over to Haas
    Plan D = Drive a Rally car
    Plan E = Enter Formula E

    1. @phylyp
      Haha you should send this to him personally.

    2. @phylyp So would Plan F be Ferrari?

      1. @keithcollantine – ha ha, which could also go by the codename “Plan Failure” ;)

      2. Plan G – Give up

        We could prob do the whole alphabet…

        1. I’ve figured out what Plan W is (note the car on the right) but he’s going to need a new wardrobe…

          1. LOL – nice spot.

            Forget wardrobe, he’d need a razor, stat!

          2. I thought they’d already gone with Plan W(ingman)?

        2. Plan H – Have a year off

      3. Bruno Verrari
        8th August 2019, 13:59

        Ferrari is hopefully a no-no, no-go.
        By the way, we should hopefully still spell it Verrari (with a “V”, as in Vettel ;)).

      4. Heard anything? That could only happen if Vettel left.

    3. Well played!

    4. He will go to Haas. Grosjean will be out. And with Haas, he can finish in points all the races next year. Personally I don’t like Bottas.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        8th August 2019, 21:55

        Just wondering what is making many think it will more likely be Grosjean out rather magnussen? I really can’t say magnussen has done better than Grosjean this year.

        1. Apart from the points @thegianthogweed – Magnussen has been more consistent, which, with a very inconsistent car, is quite important; last year, it was like that too – Magnussen had a steady trickle of points, Grosjean had some bigger finishes, but a lot of DNF and bad races too.

          1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
            9th August 2019, 21:22

            @bosyber

            Sorry for such a long comment, but as to me I think it is pretty obvious that grosjean has done better this year, i thought i should give my reasoning.

            I don’t really agree that Magnussen has been more consistent.

            Grosjean has had 6 retirements. The only one that some may blame him for was in silverstone, which was Magnussen’s only retirement. And I’m pretty sure the majority blamed Magnussen for this double retirement. The 5 other retirements for Grosjean were technical, the team messing up or other drivers hitting him.

            Out of only 6 races that they both finished (being China, Spain, Monaco, Canada, Austria and Germany), Magnussen beats Grosjean 1 out of 6 times. This was in spain and admittedly Grosjean didn’t perform well after the restert, but had the safety car not been there, that will have been every single race that they both finished this year resulting in Grosjean finishing ahead. And just look at the margins in some of them. Monaco. Grosjean gets held up badly in qualifying by Gasly. Starts 13th. Magnussen qualifies 5th. Admittedly impressive. But the race…. Grosjean recovers to 9th, Magnussen finishes 12th over 25 seconds behind. Grosjean may have had a better strategy, but given the starting positions, I still think Magnussen was very poor here given the time gap between them.

            Even in Canada, this was another weekend where Magnussen seriously underperformed on race day. Very disrespectful towards the team. Not that Grosjean either but not at this level. Magnussen was spit by the williams and over a minute behind Grosjean.

            In Austria, Magnussen was split by the 2 williams – and was over a minute behind Grosjean… See a pattern here? Even in France, Magnussen was only beating the 2 williams. Guess we can’t say what grosjean will have done, but Magnussen took nearly 10 laps to get by the 2 williams and that to me was pretty poor.

            Germany and China, Magnussen was closer to Grosjean, but still didn’t look quicker in either. And as i mentioned before, In Spain, Grosjean looked better until the safety car then admittedly he messed up.

            The other races, Magnussen got the better start in Australia, but there wasn’t much difference between them performance wise. If Grosjean didn’t have his 11 second pit stop, he could possibly have got out right behind magnussen or even maybe jump ahead of him. But he had the problem in the pits then had to retire.

            I think that also in at least half of the races grosjean retired in, he was currently leading Magnussen until he had issues that lead to his retirement.

            I do struggle to understand how some think Magnussen has done better this season. Magnussen’s worst races have looked far worse than any by Grosjean. And in the races, Grosjean really hasn’t been making the same level of mistakes he did last year. I feel many people are under rating him this year and using the fact that he is known for often crashing as reasoning for rating him badly. Neither driver has been good this year, but Magnussen had looked much worse to me. His defending looks very messy and on the limit.

    5. That is excellent, @phylyp! :O)

      1. I look at retirement of the car as a negative indicator of the driver. It can be that s/he is not as aware of the people around, hence makes contact too often, or that they are rough on the machine, etc., but a great racer that retires often is not worth much. Fate doesn’t strike just one or two people in the paddock like that.

  2. With that many plans, he should be a Ferrari strategist.

  3. RBR 2nd driver.

    1. @SpeedyWeedy Extremely unlikely to happen.

    2. This continually gets brought up… bottas to rbr.

      All I can do is welcome these people to their first season following formula1… as it’s obvious they’re new.

  4. Bottas hasn’t really done that badly this season. Monaco wasn’t his fault. He was a little off in Canada compared with Hamilton but then the same was true in reverse for Austria. So basically an error in the wet for Germany, which Hamilton also made but got away with by the skin of his teeth, and then a scruffy opening lap in Hungary leaving him open to the damage Leclerc caused. His low points haven’t been that much worse than Hamiltons, he’s just not countered them with the strong runs of form Hamilton has.

    He’s not had the flashes of brilliance Hamilton has had in Bahrain, Canada and Hungary (although Australia was rock solid) but he’s still a solid rear gunner. The Germany retirement is the only thing that’s really brought Verstappen into contention for 2nd place. I don’t think Mercedes has a realistic alternative available yet so I’m predicting another one year contract extension unless the second half of the year completely falls apart.

    1. @philipgb – What you say is fully accurate, however, that is looking only at 2019. Toto and the others will be looking at where they might expect RBR and Ferrari to be in 2020.

      We’ve seen what Vettel can do on a good day, and we’ve been impressed by Leclerc’s potential, and the Ferrari. If they iron out their issues, they’ll be a formidable force. Ditto with the other competitor: we’ve seen Max, we’ve seen where the RBR/Honda package is, and if they sort out their second driver, they might be another team to reckon with in the WCC.

      It is with a view to that future that Mercedes will be assessing Bottas against other options. Can Bottas reliably take a pole/win on those days Hamilton falters? Can he reliably be the guy crossing the line just after Hamilton on those other days? They can’t keep relying on Hamilton to absolutely secure their WCC title.

      I could be wrong on this, but I don’t think Merc (or anyone?) is contractually committed for 2021 and beyond, are they? Against that backdrop, and the leadership changes in Mercedes, we also have to wonder if Ola Källenius decides to move to FE thereafter. And if that is even a remote possibility, Mercedes will absolutely want to go out of F1 on a high – they wouldn’t want any risk of being beaten in the WCC in 2020 right before a planned move to FE – the charitably inclined might say they took their eye off the ball at the end, others would say they got beaten out of F1.

    2. @philipgb Solid but not brilliant, then. Spot on. For brilliant you need Hamilton or Verstappen. Or… that’s when it becomes tough. Either a young driver still unproven in a top car and with an uncertain potential for brilliance, Russell? Norris? Or a driver who could perhaps still shine under the right circumstances, Ricciardo? I can see Mercedes’s dilemma, if solid is enough, because they’re focused on the now, then Bottas is fine, surely. If they need or want a replacement for Hamilton to start while he’s still there, then it’s a lot more tricky.

      1. @david-br

        IMO they need to be looking at how to stop Verstappen. He’s won races in the 5th best car all last season with excellent podiums. Or the 3rd best at last weekend. Bottas cant deal with him.
        They need to make a chess like move , by signing Verstappen. That’s the only way they’ll stop him.
        Otherwise Riccairdo as a better rear gunner than Bottas is.

        1. @bigjoe It’s a good point, though the same applies to Red Bull. THey need a ‘rear gunner’ for Verstappen too if he’s to make a serious bid for the WDC next year, as Hungary should have shown them. Bottas had Leclerc-shaped reasons for being so far down field. Gasly had none. And had Gasly been chasing Hamilton, pitting for fresh tyres would have been much more questionable. We know the chances of Ricciardo being there would have been much higher.

        2. PS. I ‘know’ that you think in even cars, Verstappen would beat Hamilton comfortably. I disagree with that assessment. I think they’re even. Verstappen is driving the same or better sometimes, now, maybe, or was until Hungary, when finally we saw Hamilton have to raise his race level to match or in fact better him. So basically I see Max as pushing (or pulling) Hamilton to a higher level that he hasn’t needed that often. It was noticeable he said he was tired after the Hungary GP – when earlier he’d said GPs were too easy. Maybe we have an idea why.

    3. I feel bad for him he hasn’t been bad enough to deserve to get kicked but on the other hand there are better drivers out there that would do much more with that seat

  5. People always talk about how Dr. Marco ruin his drivers mentally. I see Toto doing worst. He basically ruin Wehrlein and Bottas carrier after giving so much false hope. Annoying tongue like Ocon is perfect for his karma later.

    1. @ruliemaulana You do realise Toto manages 1 team and that team has 2 seats. He gave Wehrlein the chance to leave the Mercedes program for the good of his career and has given Bottas 3+ seasons in the fastest car in the grid. So you’re chatting rubbish as usual.

      1. @rb13
        He’s not wrong either; had Marko been running Mercedes Wehrlein would have gotten Rosberg his seat, and Ocon probably the year after.
        Bottas never got a proper confidence vote either with his 1 year contracts.

        And argueing how Mercedes let Wehrlein go; so did RBR with all their “not good enough for F1” drivers.

        1. Well, Red Bull regularly did that (apart from the last year when it was clear rather earlier) ‘letting go’ only after the season was over – ie. when all the good seats, certainly in F1, would be gone for those drivers.

      2. how do you manage to claim “He gave Wehrlein the chance to leave the Mercedes program for the good of his career ” can the only thing toto does is letting down his driver when he fails to get them in his B team.

      3. The last sentence is way unneccessary, it does nothing to reinforce your arguement.

      4. So you’re chatting rubbish as usual.

        That’s called an opinion. Get used to it, or find another place to troll.

  6. If I was Mr. Toto Wolff then my choise for 2020 Mercedes team would be:
    A – Riccardo but if he cannot free himself from Renault, then…
    B – Alonso (F1 fans deserve a fascinating season at least from time to time)
    C – Bottas (a solid choice, but only if Ferrari and Red Bull stays as competitive as for now).
    Concerning Ocon, he must have a place at least in Williams. Although some midfield teams (Haas, Toro Rosso) might be interested in him as well.

    1. Should there be a poll with those options, @keithcollantine? :)

  7. @bulgarian

    Bernie tried to get Alonso there, Wolff actually gets on with him, but the Mercedes board hate him for blowing the whistle to Flavio over their cheating in 2007/08.
    Merc are in enough trouble as it is with the emissions cheating, price fixing cars, running a cartel and collusion to resource fixing. I think if Merc get prosecuted by the EU again with heavy fines, they’ll jump ship to Formula E.

    I agree with Riccairdo. There must be something political going on. Him and Max were the best pairing in F1 and winning races and getting podiums in 5th and 6th best cars.
    Rumour has it he has a clause with Renault he can leave if the top 2 teams need his services.

    1. Hahahahaa man…

  8. I wonder if the imprint of Rosberg / Hamilton tensions are indelible enough to give Bottas another year of being a dependable team player.

    1. I like brave people, so if a director of a top team puts two great drivers in their two cars, then I highly respect this team even if I am not a fan of this team. That’s the reason I highly respect McLaren and Mr. Ron Dennis.

  9. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    8th August 2019, 14:12

    I still think it’s weird we’re discussing whether the guy in 2nd in the championship and fighting for the world title might be out of a drive or not. I still can’t see where he’d go.

    Surely his best bet if he’s dropped is Red Bull but that’s only if they hire outside the programme. He could go to Ferrari if Vettel leaves, or Renault if they choose to ditch Hulkenberg, or to Haas if they ditch Grosjean – but most of his ‘options’ are what if’s and other than Ferrari or Red Bull they’re all backwards. I suppose if Ferrari/Red Bull are out of the picture then he’s got to aim for the best of the midfield or highest potential, which would probably be McLaren (no seat available) or Renault (dependant entirely on Hulkenberg). Everyone else is unavailable or too slow.

    Ocon is still in the early stages of his career, he can afford another year or two in a lower car before moving up. If Bottas steps back into a lower car he’s never getting back out of it.

    1. The problem for Valtteri is every contract he’s had at Mercedes has been a one year contract. This gives the impression Toto employs him because he’s the only option. I still don’t understand why they didn’t employ Daniel Ricciardo when he came knocking on Toto’s door. Lewis has said in the past that he doesn’t have an option over who the driver in the next car is. I don’t know if that still applies, but nevertheless it is hard to understand why Mercedes would turn away Daniel if they now decide they don’t want Valtteri.
      I think there’s some frustration amongst the other teams at the length of time Mercedes are taking to make their decision, so presumably they’re still negotiating with another driver or their team to get him out of a contract.

    2. Pretty scary isn’t it

      Be good enough to push Hamilton to new heights, be better than Rosberg by miles (especially for the team) and face the prospect of being dumped from F1.

      I hope like hell that Bottas has been putting out feelers to other teams because Toto’s already proved that he can’t get anyone a seat other than in a simulator.

      My money is on Papa Stroll lifting him and dumping Perez so he can mentor his boy into how to get out of the bottom 5 in qualifying.

      That the likes of Stroll and Kubica are driving and people like Bottas and Ocon are unlikely to is a tragedy.

  10. GtisBetter (@)
    8th August 2019, 14:34

    He had 3 years in the fastest and most reliable car and he has helped mercedes get the title. He was never really in the WDC though. So it depends how Mercedes is looking at things. If they think: ”you have the best car, you should challenge Lewis for the win” they might drop him, but if it’s only the constructors championship they care about, they might as well keep him another year and just buy the next great talent when their contract runs out.

  11. I think your last para is just about right. I think they would like to keep Bottas for another season, as long as they can find a seat for Ocon elsewhere in 2020, before he steps up to Mercedes in 2021. If they can’t find a seat for him I think then they would be prepared to let Bottas go and put Ocon in the second Mercedes seat for 2020.
    I don’t see anyway Hamilton would walk early, so I don’t see that as an issue. Ham is no different to the other WDC’s; as long as their car is capable of winning a race they will stick around. If the car is not going to be a race winner then it’s not going to matter that much anyway.
    Notwithstanding that, both Hamilton and Wolff have said they would both be prepared to move on if they believed their successors were the right people to take the team forward. So as an outside bet I would say Wolff to CEO Liberty; Hamilton to Ferrari in 2021 if Vettel moves on.

    1. That was in reply to Adam

  12. He needs to have many more options lined up. I don’t see why Mercedes would continue with him. Last season he was 5th in the standings. If Daniel did not have 7-8 retirements solely due to car troubles, Bottas would have been last of the best.

    Merc won the constructors last season and might repeat it this year not due to Bottas but in spite of Bottas being there.

    Any dream he might have of going to RB should also come to nought. RB already has a driver who is incapable of overtaking the mid-field cars and Bottas himself has not shown better skills in that Merc in Hungary and Germany (weird since he used to be good at Williams )

  13. Bottas doesn’t sound to me like a guy who might say: “Well, I’ve got nothing to lose so I’m going all out” and end up winning 2 or 3 races. I think that should be his Plan B. Maybe he should have dinner with Kyvat. :-)

  14. NeverElectric
    8th August 2019, 18:27

    I keep seeing “get Alonso into the Merc, it’s good for the fans” – the contracts of F1 team bosses are unlikely to have “lay on a fan spectacle” as a critical success factor.
    Toto has priorities, and top of those is “win the constructors title”.
    Next to that will be “win the WDC title”.
    He, and the Mercedes team, will therefore go for the driver pairing thst gives them the best possible chance of meeting those two objectives.
    Alonso messes up every team he joins with his tirades and his scheming and political games, putting #1 in jeopardy in his single-minded pursuit to accomplish #2. He’s therefore out of question for Mercedes.
    Ricciardo would probably be a better teammate for Hamilton, as he’s an agreeable fellow, but he wouldn’t like to be a number 2 driver again.
    Ocon is a combustible character who runs his mouth too much, and is high maintenance, so he would badly upset the balance of the team and put both objectives at risk.
    In fact, there’s one driver who’s a perfect teammate for Hamilton – that driver is Bottas.
    Don’t be surprised if he gets a two-year contract renewal.

    1. Well said, NeverElectric! I just want Mercedes team to be as strong team as possible and to have two drivers as strong as possible because of threats from Ferrari and Red Bull next season. There is no way that Ocon could improve Mercedes. Bottas will keep the balance in Mercedes. Ricciardo and Alonso would improve Mercedes’ results. Ricciardo’s fear to be No.2 driver hopefully is diminished because he is now a well known “High Quality driver”. Concerning Alonso, Mr. Toto Wolff should create a very strict contract with Alonso that prohibits to do certain things in public and presumes big penalties in case of any political games. And that would make Hamilton to stay on top of his game.

    2. I don’t think anyone one can say it better than this.

    3. Ocon is the ideal man to get Verstappen and Leclerc to be best mates. If he gets the Merc seat he’ll have lots of problems surviving Turn One. He just rubs people up the wrong way. That’s OK if you win races, but with Hamilton and the others there that seems unlikely. He’ll just annoy people.

  15. There is no reason for not resigning Bottas. He is a great number two who have some great weekends and collects a lot of points and podiums. Why disrupt the team or get a driver who will disturb your star driver?

    1. Agree.

    2. @edmarques
      The number 1 wont last forever and why would you hold on to a random number two instead of securing the future?

  16. Mr Bottas does certainly seem like a nice chap, and very fast on his good days ….. but for me he lacks the ability to consistently hit his top level, and he doesnt have any elbows. These havent been major issues for Mercedes yet, but could be next year if RBR mount a decent two driver challenge. Mercedes will have examined all their weaknesses in engine, aero, pitstop, strategy and drivers – and much as he is liked, VB certainly has weaknesses as well as strengths.
    So for Mercedes to strengthen a little and for little cost, replace VB. Ric seems like a good choice, proven race winner, overtaker, decent defender ….certainly more of a Rosberg then VB. Ric would be happy to move to a potential race and championship winning car, VB could swap to Renault and Renault will save on Rics big salary at a time they need to divert funds to the car.
    Or… do the same plan but with the Hulk… he is german and a free agent at present for next year…. but after all these years i am still unsure who the hulk really is …this would be a big risk i think.
    Ocon to Williams, if a soft landing is required.

  17. Just a thought: what if Mercedes prised Kimi Raikkonen away from Alfa Romeo? The Finn is this season proving that he’s still got his mojo. Might still have it next year. He could provide the in-team challenge that Lewis obviously craves. Just think: three proven world champions (maybe four) at the front of the grid, with a bunch of hungry predators (Verstappen, Leclerc, maybe Ocon, maybe Ricciardo (if he were to rejoin Red Bull; don’t rule it out) to snap at their heels..,.yum

  18. who needs a wingman?

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