What Rosberg’s last Mercedes deal tells us about Bottas’s chances of staying

2019 F1 season

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Will Mercedes keep Valtteri Bottas for another year? The performance of his predecessor Nico Rosberg and the timing of his last deal gives a useful perspective.

It’s 22nd July 2016, two days away from the mid-point of the season. Nico Rosberg is leading Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton in the drivers’ championship by a single point, and the team have given him a timely boost by extending his contract.

Rosberg’s new deal is for two years, covering the 2017 and 2018 seasons. But, as we all know, he never spent those two years in a Mercedes.

Confounding expectations on two counts, Rosberg first beat Hamilton to the 2016 title – prevailing by just five points – and then bid farewell to Formula 1.

Needing a new driver in a hurry, Mercedes extracted Valtteri Bottas from his deal with Williams to partner Hamilton for 2017. He scored his first pole positions and wins, and helped the team sustain what promises to be a record-breaking streak of championship successes.

But for all this, does the team now seriously believe it has a better alternative to Bottas on the shelf in the form of Esteban Ocon?

In their 52 races as team mates so far, Hamilton has out-qualified Bottas 35-17, a ratio of roughly two to one. For a relevant point of comparison, over the 52 races before Rosberg’s last Mercedes contract was signed, their qualifying scoreline was much closer: Hamilton ahead by just 26 to 24 (there were two races where one of their cars was unable to set a time).

Nico Rosberg's 2017-2018 Mercedes contract
Rosberg didn’t see out his 2017-18 Mercedes deal
The raw qualifying result between team mates is one of the simplest and more compelling measures of driver performance. But what ultimately matters is the number of points delivered. Here the picture is more complex, not just because of unreliability and incidents, but also because during Hamilton and Bottas’s time as team mates the pair have faced a more consistently strong threat from their rivals, particularly Ferrari in 2017-18.

Nonetheless, over his last two seasons alongside Hamilton, Rosberg contributed 48.1% of the team’s points tally. Theoretically, if a team hired the two best drivers available and both were equally talented, each should score 50% of their tally, so this is about as good as Mercedes can realistically hope to achieve.

Bottas’s average over the next two seasons was 41.7%. Also not unreasonable, but the picture is less rosy when you look at the deeper trend. Bottas scored 45.6% of the team’s points in his first year with them, which fell to 37.7% last year. Thus far in 2019 his tally is 42.9% – an improvement, yet still shy of his 2017 high.

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He looked in much better shape until the last two races. Whether the pressure of the championship or the doubt over his future were influential or not, Bottas had a rotten couple of races in Germany and Hungary.

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Red Bull Ring, 2019
Bottas has had a season of highs and lows
“When contract-wise, you’re on the limit, it never helps,” he admitted afterwards. “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.”

It would be easy to exaggerate the significance of these figures. Yes, Bottas is quantifiably not delivering at Rosberg’s level. But the deficit is not so great. And then there are the less quantifiable aspects of a driver’s performance – the soft skills, the team interaction, the relationship with the occupant of the other car. On the latter, Bottas very clearly out-scores his predecessor…

On that point, we should also keep in mind the standard Bottas is being judged against: Hamilton is the most successful driver among his peers, arguably one of the all-time greats. He has scored more pole positions than anyone in the history of Formula 1. Is it really worth dropping the guy who this year has averaged just 78 thousandths of a second slower than him?

The other side of the question is whether Mercedes should promote the only driver being considered as Bottas’s replacement: His 22-year-old successor as GP3 champion Ocon.

We are not privy to the data Mercedes has on Ocon’s performance as he logs endless days in their simulator. Still, it is striking that in the 12 days of testing so far this year, Mercedes has not availed itself of the opportunity to run Ocon in a single one of them.

So there is at least one data point which may give Bottas cause to hope his place in the team is not in immediate danger.

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Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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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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102 comments on “What Rosberg’s last Mercedes deal tells us about Bottas’s chances of staying”

  1. I hope Valtteri stays.
    Yes, he might not be the fastest man on Earth, but the harmony, which he helps to maintain at Mercedes, and good level of consistency are, in my view, more important.

    Ocon in that regards is a dark horse.

    1. @dallein That’s exactly the reason why I hope they sign Ocon. It would spice things up at the front of the field, which would be great for us as viewers. Seeing old rivalries from carting and F3 (Ocon with Leclerc and Max) return. Bottas is as boring as it can be; Both his personallity and race craft. Sure he has stepped up his game in qualy a bit, but on race pace he is not even close to Hamilton most of the time. If the competition (Red Bull and Ferrari) is comming closer to mercedes they might have a problem to have only 1 competetive driver, who might even be at the latter stages of his carreer at 34.
      I hope (and think) they have to sign Ocon for 2020 to keep an eye on the future.

      1. I hope Ocon joins just so Max can lap him again but get by without Ocon taking him out.

        1. What an odd comment. Barring crashes and lap 1 incidents like Hungary, Max will not be lapping a Mercedes. More likely they’ll be fighting wheel to wheel and we’ll be treated to the acrimonious duelling week in and week out, for position.

          Which would be cool.

          1. Not that odd – he has lapped his own team mate driving the same car twice now…

          2. Yes…very odd. Ocon + Merc = Gasly + Red Bull? Not on gods green earth.

        2. Ocon joining Mercedes is just a disastrous situation for Max than Lewis, he will be crushed by Mercedes, that’s when Max starts panicking.

          If Lewis cannot handle young blood he will just retire, he had enough, he just wants to crack number 7 WC and then he is ready to give up. He says he does not care about the records but deep inside he cares.

          Signing Ocon would be disaster for Merc as well, unless they contractually agree that he complies their commands in case of conflict with Lewis.

          Bottas&Lewis situation is much for better than ROS&HAM because lewis can focus more on improving and forget mind games.

          1. “that’s when Max starts panicking.”

            Lol

          2. I like how you pretend to know exactly how Hamilton feels FOR REAL.

            The joke amuses me.

        3. Max crashed into Ocon, lapped cars are aloud to un lap themselves. It showed one of maxs weaknesses, Hamilton, Alonso and Ricciardo would have easily won that race with that car in that position because they are smarter and have control over their emotions

          1. Driving in circles
            10th August 2019, 13:47

            It was a stupid mistake by Ocon and tells you exactly why he should not be in a Mercedes … He thinks he is much quicker than he really is; he could not even beat Sergio Pérez. Send them too Haas that’s where he belongs

      2. I do agree Bottas is the leading non-charismatic of F1.
        And he already looks old, his face is older by the day with all this contract uncertainty. Soon he will be a Rembrandt self portrait of the later years…
        Bottas is in every respect the opposite of Kimi who never let uncertainties at Ferrari get on top of him.

        1. Indeed Bottas is the opposite to Kimi.

          Kimi is fundamentally slower. Bottas has raw speed.

          1. I don’t know where do you watch F1. I never saw a fundamental slow thing on Kimi from Bottas, raw speed-wise mostly.

    2. He’s a lovely guy but would be nice to see a consistent challenge to Lou. Not right that hes had so many gifted championships with very little competition.

      1. No championship is “gifted”. Ferrari proved competition for the last 2yrs…and 2008

  2. While it’s not best for the spot, I think it’s in Mercedes best interests to have a clear number 1 and number 2 driver (albeit, unofficially). Steadys the waters and helps them focus on external threats.

    Ocon might just rock the boat (recall his ding-dongs with Perez!)

      1. I’ve always found the talk of “harmony” ridiculous. I bet their relationship would go down the drain the moment Bottas started seriously jeopardising Hamiltons title chances.
        As a matter of fact, I’ve never saw two drivers get along in that scenario.

        1. I don’t mean harmony in terms of friendship.

          I mean that toxic competition, mind games, running into each other off the track, etc. – things we’ve seen time and again when it comes to intense rivalries between team mates – are best avoided, from a teams perspective (great for the public, mind you!).

          A Schumacher-Barichello type relationship might suit Mercedes more as opposed to a Alonso-Hamilton type relationship.. This is something that raw data alone doesn’t account for.

        2. @Biggsy Fully agree. I think people tend to forget that as ‘tense’ as it was at Mercedes with LH and NR, they wanted more of it as per Nico’s contract extension that would have had him there for two more years, through last year.

          If it weren’t for their more dominant season that they’re having now, with the WCC not under threat, I would bet privately TW would be longing for those days of 1-2’s on the grid and on the podium on a more regular basis. Ie. he has shown he will gladly put up with two drivers who understandably have their gloves off on the track and sometimes off it, if it means a lock on the Championships. If Ferrari had followed through with their pre-season form and been robbing big points from Mercedes, TW would be wishing he had Nico back. TW had also pointed out wrt VB over the last few seasons that if/when he upped by his game it would mean the gloves coming off and an actual rivalry between LH and VB.

          1. If Ferrari had followed through with their pre-season form and been robbing big points from Mercedes, TW would be wishing he had Nico back. TW had also pointed out wrt VB over the last few seasons that if/when he upped by his game it would mean the gloves coming off and an actual rivalry between LH and VB.

            Are you sure? An intense intra-team rivalry between Hamilton and Alonso helped Raikkonen get his title in 2007.

          2. @zeek Ya that can happen too, and we’d have to examine what went on with each driver and team wrt to reliability etc etc race by race, but that does not negate my point that 1-2’s on the grid and on the podium locks out the likes of a Raikkonen coming in between. 07 does not make it written in stone as proved by the LH/NR year’s.

          3. @zeek Ya just for fun I checked out some numbers for 2007 and it would appear one could just as much argue Ferrari would not have done as well without their two strong drivers that season either.

            We had KR with 6 wins and 110 points, FA and LH both with 4 wins each and 109 points each, and Massa had 3 wins and 94 points. So we had 4 drivers in with a shout all season. Ferrari were the Constructors winners with 204 to Mac’s 166 although Mac was eliminated from the WCC altogether and technically had zero. Had either team a lesser driver that would have handed points to the other team and would have swayed things their opponents’ way. Ie. for ‘guaranteed’ Championships (said tongue in cheek) best to have two strong drivers locking up the higher points spots as much as possible to keep others at bay. Ferrari in 07 had more wins and more Constructor points so really were the rightful winners, just that when Kimi wasn’t winning he had some lower scoring races than the two Macs.

          4. @robbie I think you will find Mclaren actually won the constructors, 109×2 is 218 not 164 lol. Ferrari won it because Mclaren was stripped

  3. Hakk The Rack
    9th August 2019, 12:27

    They should emulate Schumi-Ferrari tactics: strict unofficial number 1 and his great butler Barrichello. It worked beautifully, it’s working at Mercedes. Why on Earth would they repeat Ham-Ros nightmare?

    1. Yes, by putting Ocon in, you could end up with the Hamilton Rosberg nightmare, but there’s also a chance for the Schumacher Massa dream. Which ended well, at least for thirty seconds…

      1. What ‘nightmare?’ They had signed Nico up for two more seasons of said ‘nightmare’ which is why one doesn’t hear that language from the team, but it comes from fans, likely mainly LH fans at that. Sure it’s easier for the team when one driver is a lay down and the other runs away with the points and there happens to be no other team pressuring them for the Championships, but if there was actually a season long battle between Merc and what should have been Ferrari going by pre-season form, TW would be welcoming a ‘nightmare’ of locking up 1-2’s in quali and in the podium with two strong drivers that would naturally culminate in a rivalry.

  4. I think it’s already decided in Toto’s head. There’s no reason they’d replace Bottas, a steady performer and seemingly easy going guy, with Ocon who is an unknown quantity in a Mercedes race seat.

    I’d like to see Ocon either in a Force India or Renault next season. However I suspect we’ll see him alongside Russell in the Williams.

    1. Pairing ocon with Russell at Williams would be the best way of assessing the 2 future Mercedes drivers in equal cars. Keep bottas for another season, making it clear this is his last. From that, Mercedes can decide whether both ocon and Russell are the future once Hamilton goes, or if one is lagging behind they know the search is on for their 2nd driver.

      Been impressed with Russell this year, quick in the car and seems to be very mature out of it. I reckon he’d beat ocon.

      1. My thoughts exactly. Williams would also benefit greatly from Ocon’s experience at Mercedes, albeit only as a simulator driver. Just hope Williams will have a decent car next year.

      2. Agree on all accounts.

      3. I totally agree with your comment about Russell; in fact, I believe he is the future more than Max. The future of F1 looks bright with Max, George Russell, Leclerc, Norris, Albon and that young kid who tragically lost his legs coming through in a few years. Russell in a Merc would give Lewis a good fight, more so than VB or Ocon. Plus he is mature and likely not to cause issues like Rosberg did.

    2. I also think it’s already decided in Toto’s head, but I think he wants Ocon.
      Mercedes seems to work well as it is but it worked even better with Rosberg, he was fast enough that Hamilton got the best out of the car every race or Nico beat him.
      I’d stick with Bottas because Hamilton is doing the job and Bottas is good cover without stirring up problems, but I think Mercedes are looking for more, they’re worried Hamilton might quit or go to Ferrari or something and they don’t think Bottas can lead in that scenario.
      In their eyes, I believe, they think it’s worth taking a punt on Ocon, see if he can do what Bottas can’t.
      He might live up to it, he might not, but Bottas definitely isn’t so really, what would Mercedes lose if they swapped them? worse case, they’ll have more of the same for another year and then Max becomes available, at best, Ocon lives up to the hype and Mercedes don’t need Max.

  5. I don’t really see the situations as comparable, to be honest.

    Resigning Nico was a no-brainer – he was the championship leader at the time, and had shown over the previous 3 seasons he had what it takes to challenge Lewis.

    Valterri has never shown that, has been beaten in the championships by Ferraris and Red Bulls, and has just generally never been a threat to Lewis.

    As harsh as it is on Valterri, I hope they give the seat to Esteban – we know what we’ll get next season with Bottas, 3 or 4 wins if Mercedes have the best car, and not a hint of a championship challenge to Lewis. While I don’t think Ocon is on Lewis’ level, at least with a change of driver, we might be surprised and see something different next season.

  6. When Ocon first arrived in F1, I remember being impressed with him.
    However, as time went on, he got himself involved in too many inter-team incidents to be ignored.

    I also don’t think that his foolhardy attempt to unlap himself from Max Verstappen can be forgotten. Yes, Max’s post-race reaction was out of proportion, but Ocon did receive a 10 second Stop/Go and 3 penalty points on his licence for causing an collision.

    By that time I was not sorry to see him out of F1.

    As far as I’m concerned: Bottas should keep his seat at Mercedes.

    1. @nvherman – For one incident? Seems a tad harsh, practically all the drivers on the grid have done something they shouldn’t. I’m a little more forgiving to younger drivers and would rather see them stay than get kicked out.

    2. Ocon seemed to be promising, but I had a bad impression about him as Ive seen him in a few races in DTM.

  7. the soft skills, the team interaction, the relationship with the occupant of the other car. On the latter, Bottas very clearly out-scores his predecessor…

    Yes that’s important team harmony in such a high pressure environment is vital. But if I may take a slightly different tact. Merc I think will look the the future and yes I know Hamilton has said he has no intention of retiring yet.
    Merc must look at the future challengers and the need for a no 2 driver that can hold their own against the likes of Verstappen in a competitive RB. The likely (in my opinion) challenge from MacLaren, Ferrari and heaven forbid Renault?
    I don’t think Bottas can be that driver, he seems to be a solid no 2 that on a good day can give the top blokes a bit of a scare. But he is not around to support Hamilton when needed.
    Ocon is obviously highly rated by Wolff and others in F1 for a reason, so i’ll repeat what Iv’e said before.
    Ocon to get the Merc gig next to Hamilton next year, Russel coming in later down the track when? That may be Hamilton dependent.

    1. Mercedes still currently have the best car. However, by next year I expect this will be a lot closer as either one of Ferrari or Red Bull must finally catch up as the technological progress flattens out. Then Hamilton will need a rear gunner to fend off the competition. Currently, Bottas keeps getting tangled up in battles down in 5th place which is abysmal.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        10th August 2019, 9:49

        To be honest, the only race i think Bottas will maybe have finished as low as 5th was Hungary had leclerc not damaged his front wing. You can also include Germany as a bad result. Even if you include Canada, in the end given that the Ferrari’s were better, 4th was a realistic result ignoring the time gap. But otherwise you have to include that Hamilton was in 4th in Austria and couldn’t hold back Vettel and ended up finishing 5th while Bottas got a podium. Then Germany was that bad that he finished out of the points. I’m not in any way saying Hamilton’s low points are worse than Bottas, but I think he’s had a couple of occasions this year where he really has looked bad given the amount of praise he normally gets.

        The rest of the time, I think Bottas has looked good or decent. And looks worse to some because of Hamilton being on his top form I’d say.

  8. Is this what F1 driver contract look like? I expected something more complex…

    1. @peronakov That’s just the signature page. There’s probably another 100 pages preceding this, to which about 20 different lawyers have had some input.

  9. The real decision is between Ocon & Russell!

    Wollf/team will ask themselves who they expect to be their next star driver; Ocon or Russell (Bottas dropped off that list a few years ago, if he was ever on it)
    If they know it is Ocon then they should put him in the car next year.
    But (more likely) if they don’t know yet or (unlikely) if they already know it will be Russell then they should keep Bottas and let Russell develop another 2 years at Williams.

    Thus Bottas should hope that Russell keeps performing well, and thus Hungary was a big boost for Bottas’ chances to stay at Mercedes for at least another year.

  10. Are we really saying that Lewis is only “arguably” one of the all-time greats?

    Surely he’s achieved enough to be referred to as one of the sports greatest ever drivers without the qualifier of “arguably”.

    1. Agreed, anyone who argues against it at this point wants slapping down.

    2. Yeah, it’s a bit silly to even begin to question it after 5 championships, 80+ wins, most pole positions and winning in every season he’s ever competed in.

      Don’t like the guy? Don’t agree with his life decisions? Hate his tattoos? Fine, ain’t nobody going to stop you doing that. But question his ability to drive an F1 car? You salty.

      1. @joeypropane – +Infinity and beyond. Personally i don’t get why he gets such negative comments on his performances. I don’t care what he does off the track, within reason…

    3. Hes probably a top ten candidate, but just lacks that final consistent quality to be lifted up there with the likes of Senna, Schumacher, Prost, Clark, and even Mansell and Piquet. They were on it every single time they got in a car, Lewis still has too many off races to compare.

      Also not having any decent competition other than Rosberg in the dominant Merc years has flattered his ability and results.

      1. @ Glamo

        Paddy Lowe, who worked with Senna and Hamilton, and had first hand data, thinks otherwise. It’s a good thing ->

        Hes probably a top ten candidate, but just lacks that final consistent quality to be lifted up there with the likes of Senna, Schumacher, Prost, Clark, and even Mansell and Piquet

        is just your opinion.

        Senna had many off days. Monaco, when he binned it while comfortably in the lead. Or Adelaide smashing into Brundle. Then there were races where Senna was generally in no man’s land compared to Prost. I genuinely get amazed at the selective nostalgia when it comes to reviewing drivers. Don’t get me started on Mansell particularly when it comes to his record vs Piquet who, today, barely gets a mention as a great even along the lines of Lauda.

      2. @Glamo

        You have Rosetinted glasses. I can assure you Schumacher, Clark etc all had their days/weekends off. All drivers do. No competition but his teammate 2014-2016, but he that changed in 2017 & 2018—also 2008. Ferrari had comparable cars 2008, 2017, 2018

    4. I think it’s (ironically) a way to prevent an argument in the comments section. Whilst personally I don’t barrack for Hamilton, I do consider him one of the top drivers of all time. But others may feel different—thus, there’s arguments either way. Hence: “arguably”.

  11. The issue with replacing bottas with ocon is that ocon did not even match perez at force india. If mercedes wants the best driver then even perez is better option than ocon. After all bottas is trailing hamilton with similar relative margin as ocon was trailing perez at force india. Ocon collected 79% as many points as perez whereas bottas has collected 75% as many points as hamilton. The numbers just don’t add up for ocon. Ocon was as close to perez as bottas is to hamilton that to me clearly shows bottas is the better option of the two. Mercedes’ future talent is russell. I’d put russell into that other merc before ocon if I had to put someone there.

  12. RocketTankski
    9th August 2019, 13:11

    I got the impression that Nico was seen as a key pillar in the rebuilding of Merc F1, whereas Bottas has been a useful substitute who has been lucky & skilled enough to stick around on rolling contracts whilst Merc see how the cards fall.

  13. 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.

    I think it’s worth dropping him for that comment alone. If you’re going to complain that you don’t perform well under pressure, how can your team rely on you to deal with the pressure of actually winning a championship?!

    1. I mean, he’s referring to contract negotiations and having a seat. Not pressure in general.

      1. Sure, but a driver has to deal with all kinds of pressures and distractions. He’s saying that he can’t drive well in a race because he’s worried he has to perform well to keep the drive. Is that really much different to being in the final races of a championship and having to drive well to win it?

        1. Yeah, to me it says that he doesn’t have much faith in his own ability. I doubt any of the top drivers have this worry as he knows if Mercedes ever dropped him another top team would snap him up

    2. Electroball76
      9th August 2019, 13:25

      I know a lot of people are on the fence about Ocon but perhaps he has matured a bit in his year away. A year out the spotlight seemed to have helped Kvyat.

    3. Having to negotiate a contract while driving is surely a distraction for everybody.

    4. @david-br – I hear you, he is in the top team and when they need him to deliver because the other driver, who they’re acustomed to putting under pressure grumbles but gets on with it, they need the same from Bottas. I’ve mentioned before, if Rosberg was driving that car in Germany this year i’m pretty sure he would’ve ended up on the podium.

      1. Just wondering what your thinking is behind believing Rosberg would have podiumed in Germany? He might’ve played it safer than Bottas did at the end, but in general I think Bottas is a better wet-weather driver than Nico was. Rosberg was absolutely DREADFUL in the rain at Monaco ’16, and he was quite lucky not to bin it at Brazil in the rain later that year. There’s not much to suggest that he wouldn’t also have spun in Germany this year.

    5. I have to agree – it’s a bit of desperate statement to make really. I think he should have a chat with Lewis about the pressures that he’s had to face to win championships and then take a long look at himself and decide if this is his calling in life.

  14. I would offer George Russel that Merc seat in a heartbeat. Fantastic driver and very PR friendly with it. Comes across as someone for whom pressure is like water off a duck’s back. If not George, then Lando – same applies – if he could be an option from McL?

    1. I wonder if mclaren would jump on a deal where they give away norris and get mercedes engines? Although I doubt if that would make sense for merc. They want at least something better than bottas and is lando that considering he is not detroying sainz at mclaren?

  15. Give his seat to Jolyon Palmer! He deserves it since his race analysis videos are often more interesting than the race.

  16. After the last races Bottas isn’t in any positon to make demands about being allowed to race for the #1 position in 2020. That makes him just perfect to stay with MB, his alternative is driving somewhere in the midfield or worse. Because he is in a real bad position to negotiate about anything next year he is the perfect teammate for Lewis in 2020.

    If the RB is getting as strong as RBR hopes in 2020, then MB can not afford to not totally focus on Lewis for the drivers championship. If MB are as serious about the construtors’ championship as they claim to be, then Bottas might have a problem.

    But i don’t think Valtteri has that problem because he is invaluabe as the perfect wingman, like the one that RBR missed so dearly last race.

  17. I’ve always found the talk of “harmony” ridiculous. I bet their relationship would go down the drain the moment Bottas started seriously jeopardising Hamiltons title chances.
    As a matter of fact, I’ve never saw two drivers get along in that scenario.

    1. Hamilton and Buton seemed to get on quite well and were yo-yoing each other in the points charts.

  18. On that point, we should also keep in mind the standard Bottas is being judged against: Hamilton is the most successful driver among his peers, arguably one of the all-time greats. He has scored more pole positions than anyone in the history of Formula 1. Is it really worth dropping the guy who this year has averaged just 78 thousandths of a second slower than him?

    This is the key thing that is overlooked. Hamilton is exceptional, so exceptional that anyone next to him will look ordinary. Senna did it to Berger, Schumacher did it to Barrichello, Alonso did it to Fisichella, Vettel did it Webber, Verstappen is doing it to Gasly. Being fractionally slower in raw pace than an all time great doesn’t mean you should be tossed on the scrap heap, it means you are a properly good racing driver.

    Ocon is a risk for Mercedes at this stage. I’m not saying he isn’t the future for the team, but I think it is too soon, he’s still too raw. So the sensible decision is to keep Bottas for 2020 and get Ocon back on to the grid elsewhere so he can continue to prove himself.

    1. Sounds like a lot of us are on the same page @geemac. Bottas is the sensible choice at this point while Ocon is thrown back in the ring with Russell. Game on for those guys.

    2. Ricciardo did it ro Vettel and Rosberg did it to Schumacher (when Schumi did not have his own special tyres).

    3. @geemac agreed. It’s arguable that any driver could truly outshine Hamilton over a season. Hamilton seems to have found all the tools he needs (professionally and personally) to maximise his performance week-in-week-out. Every now and then he’s a bit “off”, but he is still human; and it’s more noticeable because it’s rare.

      For a long time I never really liked Hamilton, but over the past few years I’ve started to come around as he’s matured and just constantly continues to deliver. I wouldn’t call myself a fan, I prefer to see him not win, but you can’t argue with his long list of achievements over the past decade.

    4. Except Bottas isn’t just a “fraction” off Hamilton’s pace.

      The only reason Bottas is so close in qualifying this season is because he clearly sets his car for low fuel runs on the softest compound. That’s why he is generally 20 seconds off Hamilton’s pace in the races.

      1. You do realise they all do this right? Because, it’s qualifying? They haven’t qualified with race fuel since 2009….

  19. Not seen anything to suggest Ocon would be quicker, nicer, easier to manage, as consistent or reliable as Bottas.

    So from my position beyond the wall of data Mercedes have that may show a lot more, I see no reason to replace Bottas with Ocon.

  20. In Bottas’s defense his points tally over the previous years has been negatively impacted by Ferrari being more competitive, mechanical failure and team orders, the latter boosting Hamilton’s tally to boot.
    Rosberg did also get team orders, as in stop hitting each other; something Bottas never needed to be told.

    Rosberg still was a better driver than Bottas though. And of the top of my head I cannot remember any daring overtakes or other signs of exceptional skill by Valtteri. He fails to make an impression.

  21. If Ricciardo has a get out clause, they should sign him and look to get Russell to Mercedes when Hamilton retires or moves.

    1. I think the real danger to Bottas’ seat is from Russell. He is already doing very well in the Williams and Mercedes will have his simulator results to compare as well.

      Max and Charles both got promotions within 1 year and 1 year + 4 races. Mercedes are bound to think about promoting Russell sooner rather than later.

      Regarding Ocon, one just needs to think of when was the last time a leading team took a driver who was on the bench the previous year. Alonso in 2004 is the only example I can think of. Ocon may land a seat somewhere on the grid, but not at Mercedes.

      1. @Sumedh 2003 actually, but yes, that’s the only case I can think of in which a leading team has taken a driver who wasn’t racing the previous year. Then, of course, Felipe Massa returned to being a full-time F1 driver after an entire year out of racing altogether, and the same with Nico Hulkenberg, and Kevin Magnussen, as well as, to an extent Daniil Kvyat. ‘To an extent’ because he might’ve done some on-track running (outside of F1) last year.

        1. But none of them came back to top teams. They came back with Sauber, Force India, Renault, Toro Rosso.

          Here we are talking of the 6 time champion team drafting in a driver from the bench. Unheard of.

          1. Ferrari took on a driver after he hadn’t raced for nearly 10 years. His name was Luca Badoer… …oh wait, maybe not the best example from multiple persectives…

      2. @Sumedh Though Wolff has already mentioned not wanting to ‘burn out’ Russell by signing him too early (for next year presumably). My thinking is that Ricciardo would be a good complement to both Hamilton and Russell. If Mercedes go for Ocon, what next? Sign Russell soon after if Hamilton goes and have two young drivers with little top team experience? And is Ocon even good enough? Ricciardo is a proven quantity and has the potential to be at Rosberg’s level or better at Mercedes, I think (placing Rosberg above Bottas as the article indicates).

        1. I agree, Ricciardo would be a good alternative to Bottas, and he’d be a great follow on driver after Lewis retires.

  22. What would happen IF Mercedes wants a German driver in a `German’ team? There is a nice team-player German guy out there and a French team that would be happy to get a French driver in their line-up.

    I mean, I do not think Toto is trying to replace Bottas as he is (or was?) his manager. I think that, perhaps, people from Mercedes do not want Bottas driving the second Mercedes.

    1. They would have to return Pascal Wehrlien for that to work (he being the one Mercedes-aligned driver with the necessary nationality, though as he’s in the Formula E team that might not be quite so easy)…

  23. Ocon is a hothead. Better put in Russell. He is the real deal.

    1. I found the not running of Ocon during any Practice session very interesting. Surely you’d expect him to have been given some lap time, especially as he always seems to be present in the garage during races. I think his run in with Max has seriously dented his chances of getting another seat in F1. I don’t think any Team Principal will want him for that, and may also be the reason for his lack of Practice track time. Considering that, you’d expect Wolff to have tried to get him a seat with one of the Formula E teams or in another racing series, then they don’t need to pay him to sit around the garage, but no, they want him in the garage … but not on the track.
      Regarding Russell, I agree, he comes across as a very astute driver. I don’t know if he’s ready to drive for Mercedes, but if not and there’s a seat going at Racing Point then maybe he should be promoted to there.

  24. I think for the Formula 1 needs a really competitive team mate for Hamilton. If Merc come out dominant again next season and its another Hamilton walkover it will be another blow for an already struggling sport. Bottas is not mentally tough enough to beat Hamilton on track consistently. There are plenty of fast guys out there but its that mental toughness that’s rare. I say give Alonso the seat!!

    1. ALO : mentally tough enough, but toxic to the team and wreak havoc the cause when his toughness and ability fails to prevail, by relying on dirty politics or something else. I guess he himself has reached at the age of recongnizing it.

      And below are not called for but in the same context with ALO,

      ROS : bit less tough and capable than ALO, and fundamentally not toxic at all. But when got beaten despite all his effort, he also followed similar track of ALO and anchored himself into some questionable stuff (maybe internal politics)

      BOT seems at the comparable level to ROS in terms of capability but a good and clean-minded bloke not to rely on outside help to serve his bid to stand out. And this has something to do with the oveall saying on him of not mentally tough enough. That maybe is his dilemma for the past 2-3 years and still counting on.

      For the 2nd seat of Merc, BOT is still in a very good position and it should be.
      Alternative pairing 1 would be RUS with the provision of keeping HAM another 2-3 years assuming in that period HAM will hit the peak and begin to wane and RUS catches up fast to be the next runner of WDC. Alternative pairing 2 coulde be RIC, 1-2 years with HAM and transitting to new era without HAM in the equation…

      1. Considering the shebang – some outcrying of F1 boredom with Merc and HAM dominance hence to boost internal fight with tougher material (circomstantial, and still this is biz for money), HAM nearing the peak and the rules about to change from 2021 (inevitable fact to come), Merc in certain way to secure their competence and prospect intact beyond 2021 ie preparing post-HAM era (Merc’s own agenda or cause to be addressed), it does seem HAM and RIC for 2 years or so and HAM leaving for somewhere else, then RIC and RUS or whoever comes in as new talent would be quite safest bet.
        And RIC, just like HAM, looks good fit to Merc team culture, which is in some ways in the opposite end of that of Ferraris, valuing the fairness and pursuing rational approach in anything rather than prejudice or political interest, trying to remain open-minded, more data reliant than leaning on false or wrong belief in something (whatever it is, be it the good old days of their dominance and the habit or culture or running behavior, moral stuff at the times). Also he believes in his ability, very high level of self-confidence like HAM, as far as games are not rigged, he can be the man at the top kinf of confidence. They have natural tendency to hate the rigging stuff and political stuff seen from ALO mostly and ROS in 2016. There it would be worth the time of watching how HAM and RIC pair each other and develop themselves over time.

  25. Ocon is being groomed for the position by the engineering team, and would likely give better feedback for development than Bottas. Other than that, he’s a bit of a risk, but a risk they can afford. Hamilton driving a single Mercedes entry would be in second place in the championship. They need a modicum of points from his teammate.
    Bottas would be good for F1 in a competing car. I’d like to see him with Perez in the RP or with Magnusson in the Haas, or with Ricciardo in the Renault.
    Russell will come in a few years.

  26. Is it really worth dropping the guy who this year has averaged just 78 thousandths of a second slower than him (Hamilton)?

    Similar to NFL Football, NHL Hockey, a team makes the finals 2 or 3 years in a row, doesn’t win the BIG one and they fire the coach. Makes no sense. The team beat all but one. Bottas is closer to Hamilton than most would be and he doesn’t run into his teammate too often. Sometimes you have to accept things as they are. He needs to improve his race-craft, yes, but he is fast and reasonably consistent.

    1. Anon A. Mouse
      10th August 2019, 4:01

      No, it isn’t, and everyone’s argument for replacing him seems to revolve around their craving for a more unpredictable F1. What sense would it make for Mercedes to replace a driver who is doing exactly what they need? If one driver comes in first, and the other comes in second or thereabouts, what more do they need? A 1/2 is as good as they’re ever going to be able to do with two cars.

      1. Exactly. Surely Mercedes makes the decision with more fact-based arguments than eg. getting more crashes with Max in the future or that Valtteri is not charismatic enough. In my mind the only things that should matter is the driving skills and team personality. The case for Bottas should be undisputable.

  27. I would rather see other driver on his seat next year. Ocon? I can’t understand the hype behind this guy.
    He had in Perez a stronger team mate than Leclerc had in Ericsson, but in 2 seasons he never did a thing that you could call impressive, like some of Leclerc’s drives last year. Or most of what Verstappen did at STR.

  28. The trouble with Bottas is his race pace.

  29. When evaluating drivers like Bottas in his current situation I always use what I call the “James Hunt measure of number 2s”. Once when commentating on Berger and Senna at McLaren, Hunt said something along the lines of “Berger is the perfect partner for Senna. He is a genuine number 1, so he pushes him and keeps him honest. But he’s not a top flight number 1 like Prost or Mansell, so he keeps team harmony.” What do Mercedes want? If you say Hamilton is their number one, like Senna was McLaren’s, do they want a Prost, Mansell, Berger or Patrese? Adrian

  30. Dominant Mercedes will stick with Bottas as he is just another number2 ala Webber/Massa/Barichello. No dominant team in F1 wants another Rosberg like situation where an unpolished driver undergoes pressure processing in a top car to eventually end up competing for the number1 spot.

  31. Rosberg wasn’t really closer to Hamilton in qualifying than Bottas. In 2016 Hamilton did not qualify (in Q3 or at all) in China, Russia and Spa. Taking that in consideration he out qualified Rosberg 12 to 6.

    Perhaps you could argue that Rosberg had a race-only setup in Austria since he had a gearbox grid penalty. Still, then it’s 11 to 6 and still almost 2 to 1 for Hamilton.

    For 2015 it was also 12 to 7 for Hamilton.

    1. F1osaurus
      Taks some rest, man. Even without those numbers being presented, most people know that ROS was not a match for HAM, even in 1H of 2016 when HAM had been in relax mode IMO. Some will claim till they die that they were nip and tuck regardless of fact or the details. When part of certain numbers serve their intention of tarnishing HAM they will keep quoting that and only that to rationalize their pathetic behavior or hatred. Let them rant and scream. Let them breathe in their hatred and taunt in false belief cuz twisted view coupled with self-serving purpose never corrects.

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