Mercedes’ decision who will be Lewis Hamilton’s team mate next year could have a profound effect on the 2020 F1 driver market.
Current driver Valtteri Bottas is bidding for a fourth season at the team. But reserve driver Esteban Ocon has been promised a drive somewhere this year after losing his race seat at Force India.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has indicated the decision will come down to a straight choice between their current driver and their reserve. So who should it be?
Bottas may not be performing at quite the same level as his predecessor Nico Rosberg, but Mercedes have plenty of reasons to be satisfied with his performance. The Hamilton-Bottas partnership has continued the team’s streak of constructors’ championship titles.
Although Bottas may not be winning races at the same rate as Rosberg was, nor looking as likely to snatch a championship from Hamilton, this could be a preferable situation for the team in some ways. The relationship between their two current drivers is clearly healthier than it was when Rosberg was Hamilton’s team mate. It is hard to imagine the current pair triggering a Spain 2016-style doubt wipe-out.
Add in the inevitable uncertainties which would come with replacing one driver for another, and Mercedes has ample cause not to change its current line-up.
Ocon’s progress up the single-seater ladder has been far slower than his talent has justified. After winning the European F3 title in 2014 he moved sideways into GP3 instead of up to GP2. Nonetheless he won that title – but was then shunted into the DTM. His first F1 chance came in mid-2016; had it come sooner, perhaps he could have impressed Mercedes enough to give him a chance when Rosberg quit?
Regardless, he has certainly proved himself ready for the opportunity in the intervening period. He was conclusively the quicker of the two Force India drivers last year and (rightly or wrongly) showed his willingness to face down the driver who is emerging as Mercedes’ most formidable opponent – Max Verstappen – on the track.
Ocon has made a case for himself as being potentially as quick as Bottas – but a tougher prospect on the track. The team doesn’t know whether Hamilton will stay after 2020, so now is the time to give youth a chance.
The heart says Ocon. He’s from a humble background, he had a tough climb through the junior categories and he didn’t deserve to lose his F1 seat following his most competitive season yet last year.
But I’ve got nothing against Bottas, and the head says he’s the logical choice. Put simply, he’s doing well enough for Mercedes not to need to replace him, notwithstanding his shaky run in the last two races. It’s Bottas for me.
Should Mercedes opt for Bottas or Ocon next year? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.
Who should Mercedes hire to be Lewis Hamilton's team mate in 2020?
- No opinion (7%)
- Esteban Ocon (40%)
- Valtteri Bottas (53%)
Total Voters: 419
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117 comments on “Poll: Should Bottas or Ocon get the second Mercedes seat?”
11th August 2019, 8:23
If Mercedes in thinking beyond 2020 then Ocon. Hamilton is 34, he is going to retire sometime. (or leave Mercedes) They need a successor. Bottas is not good enough. Ocon? We do not know yet. They could give him the chance for two years, he could learn from Hamilton and by 2022 they may have a championship contender driver.
11th August 2019, 9:50
Beyond 2020 Russell becomes an option.
It’s too early to tell if Russell or Ocon is going to be the next big thing (I think it is more likely Russell).
If it’s unclear if Ocon will be their next star, then don’t put him in that car; let him show in another team if he develops better than Russell.
PS weird to use the Brazil incident as a something in favour of hiring Ocon.
11th August 2019, 10:57
It shows how far ocon will go for Mercedes.
Not sure if that is a good thing.
11th August 2019, 18:25
Leclerc should move to mercedes. Lols.
11th August 2019, 14:20
Russel is judged to be amazing because he beats an injured old out of the game for a long time Kubica? Yeah, very impressive.
11th August 2019, 15:04
You don’t really need to compare Russel with Kubica to come to the conclusion that the lad has talent. Everyone knows exactly where the Williams stacks up & despite that Russel’s ability shines through, much like Jules Bianchi’s did at Marussia. His skill & racecraft are obvious, IMO. He certainly did the business in F3 & F2 and while nobody knows for certain how he’ll stack up against one of the proven top drivers, I’d wager most objective people would agree he deserves a shot in a much better car.
18th August 2019, 2:33
@coldfly: Exactly my thoughts. If it ain’t broken, don’t fix. However, that’s for the sake of Mercedes, and I couldn’t care less. For the sake of sport excitement and my viewing pleasure, I definitely hope they hire Ocon.
11th August 2019, 20:29
Bottas will keep the seat if Hamilton has anything to say about it and he does. He’s comfortable knowing he can beat his teammate.
12th August 2019, 23:51
Lewis is comfortable knowing he can beat his Teammate or not being taken out of the race by his teammate, so Bottas it is.
11th August 2019, 8:26
I agree with the ‘I say’ part, except for the scenario of Lewis leaving in the next to 2 years. Mercedes needs to have/prep a future champion / driver that can make a difference beyond the cars capabilities (which Bottas in not). Unless they’re confident they will get Max one day. I wouldn’t bet on that
11th August 2019, 9:36
Completely agree with what you said. I like Ocon, but I believe that they should keep Bottas for next year and give Ocon a year at Renault or Haas. I don’t think Ocon would be better than Bottas next season, especially as he hasn’t raced at all this year. Bottas does a good enough job for them so he doesn’t need to be replaced next year. They can put Ocon in the car for 2021 and when Hamilton retires, promote Russell as well.
11th August 2019, 9:52
That wasn’t meant to be a reply, meant to delete it but don’t know how this works🤦🏻
11th August 2019, 14:23
What has Ocon done to even deserve the drive? He was never that great compared with Perez, who regularly beat him. And his attitude is known to be pretty foul.
They’d be much better keeping Bot till Ham leaves. Ham can’t cope with a super competitive teammate, so Bottas is a good level.
Good for Merc, not good for the rest of us to see Ham be gifted championships unchallenged…
11th August 2019, 15:08
“Ham can’t cope with a super competitive teammate…”
I can’t take anybody who’d utter such drivel seriously. Lewis “coped” with Alonso & Rosberg just fine. If they weren’t “super competitive”, then I must be stark raving mad. Matter of fact, which current driver has had more “super competitive” teammates than Lewis?
11th August 2019, 16:20
Hamilton onl couldnot cope with Rosberg over a decisive half a season.
Alonso was a tough teammate aswell, but Lewis coped somehow.
But I am all for validating this. Bring in Seb or Max for a few years alongside.
Then we can see what is what.
11th August 2019, 19:20
This makes absolutely no sense. Hamilton and Rosberg where team mates for 4 seasons. In those 4 seasons, Hamilton beat Rosberg 3-1, twice to the championship. Yet you say “decisive half a season“?! How does that work? I am genuinely curious as to your reasoning.
11th August 2019, 19:22
Having read a few of your comments on these boards you seem to come across as pretty salty towards Hamilton. If you could name me any driver on the current grid who has had tougher team mates than HAM alongside I would be grateful. I eagerly await your response.
11th August 2019, 20:07
About 2016, the year Hamilton finished second to Rosberg.
To say Hamilton was unlucky that season would be an understatement. Rosberg was extremely fortunate to win the Championship that year. One might say he was gifted the Championship.
Hamilton sufered numerous technical issues that year. These ranged from software issues, to his DNF in Malaysia. There were races where he didn’t not set qualifying times and therefore started at the back of the field, or in 10th place because of this. There was even an incident where Bottas took him out at the start. :)
And yet dispite all these ‘gremlins’ the championship went down to the last race. To call Rosberg ‘competitive’ doesn’t begin to discribe their relationship. Rosberg was desperate, and thankful when he finally got that win to match his father’s acheivement in the sport. Then he quits.
Rivalry of this kind acted as a distraction within the team which took its focus away from its primary objective.
11th August 2019, 20:12
@blazzz simple, in 4 years Rosberg was better for about half a season. Hamilton dropped the ball on end of 2015 season. Nico then did 9 victories in a row.
Once Hamilton was better again, Nico had great enough lead and some luck to win it.
11th August 2019, 20:48
Yep, he says he will compete against anyone yet weeks later stated Alonso would never be his teammate because it would create a toxic situation.
Translation: He doesn’t want to fight ALO head to head because if he were to lose a WDC to him as a teammate, his greatest accomplishment, beating ALO (by way of a tiebreaker) would lose its luster. Paper tiger.
To this day HAM will not talk to ROS because he is upset ROS won a WDC against him and didn’t come back to defend his WDC, giving HAM a shot at proving it was a fluke. Karma pure and simple.
As HAM’s WDC’s will not show that he had the best car against so so teammates, ROS’s title will not be tarnished.
12th August 2019, 20:03
If Lewis did not have super competitive team mates than you need a brain transplant or we are watching two different sports.
11th August 2019, 8:26
Looking at the future I don’t see Ocon as the next big star. If Hamilton quits then a lineup of Ocon/Russell is likely but lacks “star power”. Should Verstappen move to Mercedes then a Verstappen/Russell lineup seems more natural then a Verstappen/Ocon lineup. If Mercedes has an option on Verstappen (the rumors say they have) then it would make sense to keep bottas for another year and start 2021 with a clean slate.
11th August 2019, 8:30
Meaning to say that I hold Russell in higher regard then Ocon. He doesn’t make mistakes and has a very level head. A very solid driver! Ocon seems a bit more on the emotional side in my opinion.
11th August 2019, 9:10
I agree. Ocon has had a fair number of unnecessary or unwanted run-ins with his team mate and others. Bottas has had a few glitches, but they never looked even semi-intentional. He did well at Williams next to Massa, and not too bad at Mercedes either considering the mix of bad luck, adverse team orders and sacrificial pit stop strategies he had to endure.
11th August 2019, 8:30
Ocon deserves it. Wolff kept him as a Mercedes reserve driver for nothing. Ocon is Mercedes’ answer to emerging youth in F1 to Ferrari’s Leclerc & Red Bull’s Verstappen.
11th August 2019, 10:34
But I really do not regard Ocon on the same level as Leclerc or Verstappen. If they have to go for a younster, my pick would be Russel. But for next year it will be Bottas.
11th August 2019, 8:35
Everyone just wants Ocon in the seat because they’re hoping he’ll give Hamilton a headache.
Reality? Mercedes’ best option is retaining Bottas, if he can bring back some of that Bottas V2 we saw at the beginning of the year. He’s quick enough to pickup the pieces, and he’s not going to wreck both cars to prove a point, something Ocon is guilty of.
11th August 2019, 8:45
Ocon has proven to be hot headed and rash at times, Mercedes just need a steady points gatherer. At least for the next year.
I suspect Hamilton will continue into 2021, but if not – there will be options for Mercedes.
11th August 2019, 14:33
If Ocon was really much faster they could have taken him last year. Since they signed Bottas to one year they must have concluded it was marginal.
We know Ocan has a reputation for causing teammate trouble. That surely weighed into their decision, otherwise they could have given him a chance.
What has changed? Bottas had raced the same or marginally between, and continued to be a great teammate. What could Ocon have done to improve? Can he demonstrate newfound maturity in the simulator? I doubt it.
The biggest change is other drivers. Russel and a few other kids have shown real talent. Kubica, Gasly and Stroll have failed to impress. So there is talent worth waiting for, and a seat open at Williams, and likely ashuffle from Gasly’s retirement.
So there are options to place Ocon, and no obvious (to public) reason to swap with Bottas. I’d stay with Bottas, and wait to see if Russel or someone else is promising for next year.
11th August 2019, 9:45
Agree with what you said. I like Ocon, but I believe they should keep Bottas for next year. He does a good enough job for them, and I don’t think Ocon, not having raced this year, would be any better next season. They should give him a year at Renault or Haas and promote him in 2021. When Hamilton retires, they can promote Russell as well and have two potential young stars to compete with Verstappen and Leclerc for years to come.
11th August 2019, 9:57
So I mean I agree with @keithcollantine but you make a good point too.
12th August 2019, 1:07
Ocon has only shown that he can cause conflict in a team, one thing Mercedes has had experience with, and has learned not to promote. Ocon might be quick, but he’ll very quickly become the next Alonso and creating chaos in his wake, if he’s not careful.
11th August 2019, 8:46
Bottas. It looks from the picture above as though Ocon had stolen his sunglasses.
The naughty boy.
11th August 2019, 8:48
11th August 2019, 8:50
I said ‘No Opinion’ because at this stage of the season, I can’t decide. Bottas is still P2 in the championship, which is just what Mercedes need, but the Bottas 2.0 wallpaper is peeling and those same cracks are showing through again.
Ask me again in 5 races time…
11th August 2019, 9:11
I had lots of opinion but doesn’t include the first two choices. So, ‘no opinion’ it is.
11th August 2019, 9:15
I’d go for Bottas because he’s the ideal 2nd driver. He scores the points, is a good qualifier and he gets along with Lewis.
Of course they could go for Ocon. He looks to be pretty good. But why would Mercedes want a tough fight between their drivers. If they want that that should get Max.
11th August 2019, 10:01
The only problem with that is that when Max starts winning with RB its to late to get him.
Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
11th August 2019, 9:16
Ocon has been promised a drive by Toto simply saying he will be in a car in 2020 and i think this was on live TV. Bottas officially signed a contract with 1 year and an option to extend to 2020. I think that it is more likely to be Bottas and jot just based on this. Some people are just basing Bottas too much over the last 2 races. Mercedes mentioned they are looking at these 2 last races, but what I’m pretty sure what they mean is that they would be deciding Bottas’s future over these 2 races. Not just look at them and say if he’s good during them, keep him or bad, get Ocon. It really does look like some people took it this way. They will look over the whole season. He was leading the driver standings for the first 4 races. Which against Hamilton is pretty impressive. The team would have had 8 1 – 2 finishes had it not been for Verstappen in Monaco messing up Bottas’s race.
Bottas may have made mistakes recently, but his race in germany wasn’t really worse than Hamilton. As Hamilton made the same mistake and it was pretty much only luck that decided the outcome. Before hand, Bottas was the cleaner driver that race. Then Hamilton apparently wanted to give up and retire the car. That is a pretty poor attitude when he still managed to recover a few places after he said this and get points due to penalties ahead taking place soon after the race.
I think that both drivers 2 lowest points have been pretty much as bad. Germany and Hungary for Bottas, Austria and Germany for Hamilton. Bottas would have been 5th at worst had it not been for Leclerc breaking his front wing.
If we exclude both these races for both drivers, Hamilton has still clearly been better by quite a bit. But Bottas really hasn’t been bad even if you do include them. Hamilton’s normal performance is just making him look worse. I see no reason to replace Bottas when things are working out fine with him here.
11th August 2019, 10:22
He wanted to retire the car due to the engine regulations. If he wasn’t going to get any points he was thinking of saving the engine.
11th August 2019, 10:31
“Had it not been for Verstappen in Monaco messing up Bottas race”
All Bottas had to do was lift for a second when RBR released Verstappen in Monaco, give the fact that he had perfect sight on what was happening, and he would have finished 2nd in Monaco.
And that’s just one of the reasons why Bottas, from both a viewers- and a team perspective, is a waste of that seat.
The only benefit he brings is peace of mind for Lewis.
11th August 2019, 10:53
In one way Bottas ruined both his and Verstappen’s race in Monaco.
Mercedes was leading the race with drivers on P1 and P2, they where facing a double pitstop when SC came in…. Bottas slowed down during the in-lap in order the create a gap big enough to allow to Lewis pit and not having to wait for it himself. According to the rules a driver may not slow down during SC, Bottas gained a massive advantage and would have ended up in a train of car in the pit.
The FIA let is go, but it was in fact the reason to why things went wrong… RBR ofcourse tried one of their fast pit stip undercut strategies which they nearly pulled off… Verstappen though got released unsafe into Bottas.
11th August 2019, 11:15
Oconomo, the regulations make it explicitly clear that it is the team which is releasing their driver that is directly responsible for releasing their car in a safe manner – the onus was entirely on Red Bull and Verstappen to avoid the collision, not Bottas.
Your very statement that “All Bottas had to do was lift for a second”, rather than exonerating Verstappen and Red Bull, is in fact evidence of their guilt. If Bottas was being put in a situation where he is having to lift to avoid a collision, then Red Bull have violated the rule stating that they must not release their car unless it is safe for them to do so – there are no ifs and no buts, it is an automatic violation of the rules.
Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
11th August 2019, 12:47
yea agree with this. Verstappen was totally at fault for what happened afterwards though. The reason he got ahead of Bottas was clearly because he went slightly faster than the limit as Bottas didn’t slow down. He also made Bottas hit the wall which gave Bottas a puncture. Red Bull shouldn’t have let Verstappen go, But Verstappen shouldn’t have driven into the path of Bottas. He managed not to hit when he came out initially, which was fine, but then kept driving along side when Bottas was on the correct lane and he squeezed Bottas.
11th August 2019, 9:37
Bottas should stay. He made a mistake in Hockenheim but so did pretty much everyone else and Hamilton even twice. His weekend in Canada was scrappy but that’s about it. He lost points though no fault of his own in Monaco, a safety car potentially cost him win in Silverstone and he was innocent in Hungaroring when Leclerc unnecessarily squeezed him.
Ocon deserves to be in F1 and that’s when Williams comes into play. Out goes Kubica and in comes Ocon. Then Mercedes can evaluate whether Ocon or Russell should replace Hamilton and/or Bottas in the future.
Jim Sharpe (@jms90h5)
11th August 2019, 20:05
Totally agree with the last paragraph. Keep Bottas for 2020 and let Ocon and Russel compete in equal cars to see how they actually compare.
I haven’t seen it mentioned yet but IMO Mercedes has an interest in Hamilton breaking Schumacher’s win and WDC records in a Mercedes. If they were to have too strong a #2 driver next year that would be more difficult or take longer, potentially putting it at risk if LH were to retire in 2021.
Finally, some people (not me) have complained that F1 is boring because Mercedes wins too much. If MV joined them alongside LH the only chance any other team might have for a win would be another massive screwup taking both top drivers out of contention. Even more of the season would be a crazy dominant mercedes 1/2.
11th August 2019, 9:53
As far as I see, Bottas might be retained or replaced because of the very same reason: “he is quick enough to secure the constructors trophy, but not quick enough to seriously challenge Hamilton on the long run.” Depending on the particular point of view, this might be interpreted positively or negatively…
11th August 2019, 9:54
I don’t necessarily think it is a good idea to put a driver into the best team after a year of total absence from racing. I also don’t really see ocon as a huge future star simply because during his two years at force india he was not even able to match perez during their two years in the same team.
What I’d do is put ocon at williams next to russell and let them fight it out. Both drivers get equal equipment and if the better driver does well enough he will get the bottas’ seat. Beating the intra team championship is not enough on its own. The winning driver needs to prove he is deserving of the second best seat in the racing business. Russell is the other merc future prospect after all and merc is in no hurry to make any changes. Hamilton will never quit as long as he has a winning car and no matter what hamilton says he will stay at merc as long as merc keep winning. The bigger question is not even whether hamilton will retire from f1. It is about whether mercedes retires from f1. What I expect to happen when mercedes stops winning is that both hamilton and mercedes are out.
11th August 2019, 10:45
I doubt Williams can afford to have Ocon there. They might need a pay driver (Latifi) there to take care of the bills
Jim Sharpe (@jms90h5)
11th August 2019, 20:10
I agree with this (see my reply to another post above) but reading it again it made me wonder “why wait”? Couldn’t Williams put Ocon into Kubica’s seat right after the summer break? Why keep wasting that seat, it would likely make for a very interesting race at the back watching Russel and Ocon compete knowing what’s at stake.
NS Biker (@rekibsn)
12th August 2019, 0:08
Williams may not have the option to do a driver swap this late in the season. Good idea though.
Next year … that would likely work out as suggested.
Keep Bottas for obvious reasons, Russel stays at Williams with Ocon getting the second seat along with a deal sweetener from Mercedes.
Unless your name begins with a T and a W, this is all conjecture.
My vote, No Opinion.
Can Williams produce another turkey on wheels and make it 3 years in a row … I sure hope not.
11th August 2019, 9:59
No reason whatsoever to keep Bottas, Mercedes needs a future with Hamilton having only a couple of years as top driver left in him. Ocon might not be what they need but when RB has secured VerStappen and Ferrari Leclerc they need to at least swing at something, keeping a mediokre midfield driver just for the sake of it aint exactly planning ahead.
11th August 2019, 10:06
Neither is Mercedes’ next Champion – this is just a case of who is going to drive the 2nd car and support Lewis until he leaves and needs replacing. I don’t think Ocon will do a better job of that than Bottas so why make the change?
The Skeptic (@theskeptic)
11th August 2019, 11:43
11th August 2019, 10:12
Stick with Bottas if Ocon is the only other option. Ocon has done nothing to deserve a top seat, having been deservedly beaten by his teammate in the last 2 seasons.
Phil Norman (@phil-f1-21)
11th August 2019, 10:36
I think they should stick with Bottas for 2020 at least. I don’t honestly think that over a whole season, Ocon would do any better than Bottas. Also as others have pointed out Ocon has been out for a year so is likely to be a bit rusty.
By all means try to find Ocon a seat next year in a different team and see how he performs. He does seem to have a habit of clashing with people.
Then make a decision on promoting him to Merc at the end of 2020.
11th August 2019, 11:02
Given just a choice between Bottas and Ocon, I went for Bottas.
Now if Keith had tossed Russell’s hat into this ring, it’d have been a far more entertaining vote!
11th August 2019, 11:04
The reality is that Ocon should have been loaned out to Toro Rosso as soon as Toto realised he didn’t have a seat to put him in although I wonder how long the owners of racing point will continue with only 1 driver.
By now we’d know whether he’s actually as good as I think he is and would be a fair chance to be in either the second Merc seat or the RBR car.
Unfortunately he got screwed over and is now a simulator driver. There is no chance of him replacing Bottas until he’s been put back in a car again (and not Williams unless they just want to compare him and Russell)
It’s pretty unkind to say “Ocon has made some rash decisions and Russel doesn’t” – Russel isn’t in a car that is even close to competitive, the other driver in his team isn’t good enough to even get close to him, so we’ve yet to see whether or not he’s really all that good and won’t know until he’s racing others in the middle of the midfield like Ocon was.
If Ocon isn’t allowed to drive in a decent car next year, I’d say his carreer is over – once again Mercedes will have destroyed another young driver.
11th August 2019, 12:16
Red bull would never take a loaner driver. Not only will merc take him away if he does well but he also takes all the redbull and honda secrets with him to mercedes.
Heel and Toe
11th August 2019, 13:16
I very rarely get involved with posts, but this discussion between Ocon and Bottas is interesting hearing both points of view. My choice will be Ocon yes he’s an aggressive driver, but so was Verstappen……now he’s matured into top driver.on Ocon side he’s been groomed for the last 12 months under Mercs wing with testing and simulator programs plus he’s always in the pits on race weekend around Toto and Lewis, so I feel he knows what is expected in and out of the car given Verstappens change and Ocon being from the same school I reckon you’ll see a big difference. There’s also another angle to consider, whilst Ocon is experiencing driving with Lewis and assuming Lewis might leave 2020 after getting his seventh WC the knowledge Ocon has acquired in those 12 months will be very beneficial for Georgie boy to leave Williams and take the second car, what a pairing Merc will have with new era F1 to challenge RB and F against their young drivers.Bottas on the other hand is just not consistent enough very much like Vettel is now yes he started the year well but he’s now flustering saying he spun off because he was trying to hard or the expectations that Merc require for a top driver is more pressure so in a nut shell lack of consistency puts Bottas out for the new era welcome Ocon. Thank you for allowing my post
11th August 2019, 14:41
@dbradock Toto would not have been able to just snap his fingers and place Ocon at STR once DR surprised everyone and decided to go to Renault leaving Ocon out in the cold. There’s another side to the table, namely STR and Red Bull and they are the ones who decide who drives their cars.
But you’re right in that by now we would know more about Ocon. I just wouldn’t term it that he got ‘screwed over’ moreso than he simply fell victim to DR’s decision. Russell may have not had the opportunity to show us much yet, but nor has Ocon, as really the true tests come once one is in a top 3 if not a WCC car and then we get to see how well drivers can handle real pressure when it is at it’s greatest. So in that sense teams have to take chances on drivers all the time based on how well they appear to be doing when taking whatever tangible factors into account that they can, and then projecting intangibles to try to figure out how they would really do when actually competing for wins.
12th August 2019, 0:47
Actually @Robbie Ocon did have an opportunity to go there but Toto refused to let him go to a non Mercedes team so yeah he was screwed over, particularly now he’s saying that he’s willing to let that happen.
DR moving came as no real surprise (or shouldn’t have). Renault had made it clear ages ago that they wanted him.
12th August 2019, 6:22
@dbradock That Renault may have expressed an interest in DR ‘ages ago’ didn’t stop the majority from thinking if he didn’t go to Mercedes or Ferrari he’d stay at RBR. His last minute decision to go to Renault was a surprise.
12th August 2019, 8:20
Not to me it wasn’t or to quite a few others that could see that RBR was really no closer to being able to produce a WCC winning car.
Clive Allen (@clive-allen)
11th August 2019, 11:11
Ocon has a habit of driving into other people. Hardly what Mercedes need.
11th August 2019, 11:12
Hulkenberg will get the Mercedes seat
The Skeptic (@theskeptic)
11th August 2019, 11:44
11th August 2019, 13:08
That wouldn’t be such a bad idea. He’s German which is great for Mercedes, he’s a great team player. It would make for a hell of a story if he does well. If he doesn’t do well, I’m sure he’ll score 200+ points. Maybe the car suits his style and he gets 5 poles and 5 wins.
11th August 2019, 14:27
I thought the same and toto want to put his star ocon in hulk seat, bottas will go to haas and finally we will see hulkenberg fight at the front
11th August 2019, 17:35
Agree, @freelittlebirds, not a bad idea at all.
The more I think about it the better it sounds (albeit still unlikely).
Wolff could then park Ocon at Renault (French/French) and test him from a distance, and RBR could hire Bottas to complement Verstappen (challenge him in quali, and help collect the points during the races).
It solves everything except the Haas conundrum.
11th August 2019, 17:48
While the idea of the Hulk at the Mercedes is sound, I’m not sure that his nationality will be relevant in the decision.
I’m pretty sure Mercedes don’t have any trouble selling to the Germans, so what benefit would the Hulk being German bring to them? The board won’t get warm fuzzies at having a German driver, the only thing that excites them is seeing black (with lots of zeroes) in their financial statements.
Premium brands like Mercedes need an international star, and they’ve locked down the one (only?) such person on the grid.
11th August 2019, 11:28
To all those saying to put Ocon in a Williams against Russel for a year: dont forget that Williams apparently wanted Ocon for 2019 but on a multi-year contract – Ocon understandably didnt want to be tied down for so long. I cant see any reason for that to have changed this year.
Personally I think the best option would be to loan Ocon to Toro Rosso or someone for a year, retain Bottas and then decide between Ocon and Russell to take Hamilton’s seat alongside Bottas when HAM retires.
11th August 2019, 12:21
What has changed is that ocon still has no offers and he has already sat out one year. Last year ocon could afford to sit out one year to avoid driving a really bad williams car. But can he afford to sit out second year? Especially when his most obvious competitor russell is putting in (relatively) fine performances in that williams.
12th August 2019, 4:25
@minnis How did you end up in a conclusion that “nothing has changed”? Because the way I see it everything has changed for Williams. They lost Stroll money and Rokit isn’t really a trustworthy main sponsor. Williams’ lack of money has been evident ever since the pre-season testing began. They can’t afford to force Ocon for a multi-year deal. A one-year deal with Ocon and an agreement with Mercedes that they’ll sell their engines with a bit cheaper price as a thank you for running Mercedes juniors in both of their cars is something they desperately need.
Another reason why Williams need Ocon (even if it’s just one year) is that Kubica is simply too slow. They need to find somebody else to that seat and Ocon is the most sensible option.
12th August 2019, 18:38
@huhhii Williams knew that they would be losing the Stroll money so nothing has changed in that sense.
And is kubica really too slow? Let’s say that Ocon was on par with Russell. What would be different this year? They would still be last and second last most of the time, perhaps with some of the other teams following a William’s home three or four times rather than just a couple. They still would only have one (very lucky) point, they still would be last in the championship with no realistic chance of anything else. Plus, rumours are (unverified, however) that although Kubica is off Russell’s pace, not only is he incredibly motivating to the team, but his feedback for the car development is brilliant. Actually, in Williams’ position, I know which I’d rather have.
11th August 2019, 11:44
They should hang on to Bottas, he’s loyal to the team and compared to some of Ferrari’s number 2’s more than competitive enough. There are also flashes of speed that suggest he has more to offer, the problem is inconsistency.
I do think Ocon deserves a seat, but I don’t see him being one of the cream of the crop of new drivers like Leclerc or Verstappen. Give him a few more years in the midfield and hope he can smooth off some of his rough edges then maybe he could replace Bottas.
11th August 2019, 12:11
He may have been quicker than Checo on outright one-lap pace, but Checo is the one who scored more points, and that, in the end, is what matters the most.
11th August 2019, 13:30
@jerejj In 2018 Ocon really destroyed Perez though. Finishing 10 times ahead vs Perez only 5. It’s just that Perez happened to pick up a lucky P3 in Baku and that Ocon had 4 more DNF’s.
11th August 2019, 16:28
@f1osaurus Lucky or unlucky, but that’s part of motorsport, and you have to be there to benefit from the potential misfortunes of others, and Perez has usually been excellent at executing arising opportunities.
11th August 2019, 17:10
It’s probably the right time to point out that Lance Stroll is outscoring Sergio Perez after 12 races.
11th August 2019, 17:55
Is Stroll outscoring Perez after 12 races, or is Stroll outscoring Perez because of that one race?
By that logic, I presume Kubica is the better driver since he too is outscoring Russell after 12 races?
Points aren’t an accurate reflection of drivers’ performances when they’re only occasionally scoring. Times like this are when I see the logic behind awarding points to all finishers.
12th August 2019, 15:04
I was replying to a post to the effect that Checo is/was a better driver than Ocon because he had more points (and points are what matter).
I mean, if that logic worked for Ocon vs. Perez, it HAS to work for Perez vs. Stroll.
11th August 2019, 12:33
I voted for Bottas. I just can’t agree with dropping a guy that’s 2nd in the championship and keeping him an extra year gives Mercedes greater options for 2021. (Verstappen, Hamilton staying or leaving, etc) On top of that, he’s been pretty decent this year, last two races aside.
Also, I just can’t warm to Ocon. And while Mercedes are clearly convinced he’s a champion in waiting and probably know more than I do, I can’t say I got that impression from his time at Force India. I dunno, I just get the feeling he’s being incredibly overhyped.
Then again I kinda get the feeling Mercedes have been looking for reasons to get rid of Bottas from the minute they got him. Good on him for making that choice hard for them.
11th August 2019, 12:39
I voted No opinion for this. Had it been Russell there, I would have picked him.
Bottas all these three years is back and forth between “V1.0, V1.5 and V2.0”. I don’t think that any other driver on the grid has had so many ups and downs. It has become a really bad joke so far and I am really surprised from all the votes he has. In my opinion he is not top material, he is just a good butler in Mercedes and suits well to the british tradition.
Ocon on the other hand, is too hot headed and irrational as a driver. In his stint in Force India he wasn’t able to beat Perez and provoked some totally unneseccary collisions with his teammate. All I am saying is that he is not top material yet and has to do extensive work if he wants to be on top level. Plus, he proved that he can be really dirty in order to please his bosses. Is it a good trait? Not for me.
As for Russell, I think he is pretty equal with Leclerc. Not a whiner, pretty fightive and can be a team player when needed. Balanced overall. He still has a lot to prove, if he indeed deserves to be on top level, but for me this is the ideal moment for his promotion. Ferrari took a chance with Leclerc, Mercedes should do the same.
11th August 2019, 17:50
@ioannisk – Good comment, and this is easily the clearest and most succinct argument for Russell’s promotion.
11th August 2019, 19:41
@phylyp Whether you believe it or not, my initial intension was to reply to YOUR comment. As I was typing it though, and then more thoughts came into mind, I decided to post my message as a seperate comment because I felt that it could stand on its own.
I don’t think there is much more to say about this. Ocon had a shot and in my honest opinion totally blew it. I do not expect a “wow” factor anymore based on what I have witnessed of him so far. For Russell on the other hand, if you check my messages, I had him rated lower than Markelov in F2, despite him winning the title and Markelov finishing literally nowhere. But he has impressed me so far and I’d really like to see more of him, what he is capable of.
Jimmi Cynic (@jimmi-cynic)
11th August 2019, 21:51
I voted no opinion as well. For different reasons.
If Merc wants to hire me as an armchair driving talent consultant, then I’ll gladly offer an opinion. Until then, the internet will just have to scrape by with one less unintelligent know-it-all’s know-nothing opinion. ;-)
11th August 2019, 23:46
Whether you agree or not I explained all the reasons of how I see each one of them.
Is your best trait being ironic and judge other people’s opinions without being able to construct an argument?
Nice and sooo mature!
Jimmi Cynic (@jimmi-cynic)
12th August 2019, 0:05
@ioannisk: Your opinion is so much more valid than mine. Sorry to interrupt the racefans armchair expert’s festival of irrelevant opinions.
The point I was trying to make is that it doesn’t matter what we think. I will attempt to stay out of discussions with you in future – there is no place for humour or irony in the serious business of F1 forum commenting.
11th August 2019, 13:00
It’s a real shame that Ocon’s stint at Force India ended up in so many collisions with Perez. Sure, Perez was mostly to blame – even if you took the most generous outlook on Perez’s deliberate steering wheel maneuvers into Ocon’s car – but it’s hard to erase that memory and it has tainted Ocon’s career.
On the other hand, Bottas and Hamilton have been able to have clean races over 3 seasons. I would love to see Ocon back in F1 but I’m not sure if he should get the seat next to Hamilton.
Actually the best place for Ocon would be Red Bull or Ferrari. I’d love to see him racing against Verstappen or Leclerc. I wouldn’t mind him see him partnering Kimi either at Alfa Romeo.
11th August 2019, 13:30
As I’ve said elsewhere, I’ve seen nothing to suggest Ocon would be superior to Bottas in any way – pace, consistency, general teamplay. He’s a good driver but I don’t think his peak performance level is as high as that of Bottas, he seemed better single-lap than race last season and he doesn’t come across as a ‘team’ guy.
He’s younger but is he really seen as a future Hamilton/Verstappen level driver? I don’t think he is, and Mercedes don’t either – if they thought he was, they or someone else would have found a way to keep him on the grid.
The only reason to switch is the ‘mystery factor’ – Ocon might do this, or might do that. For a lot of people this one seems to trump anything else, because their only consideration is ‘please, please find someone who can beat Hamilton’, but there’s no reason for Mercedes to think that way.
So I’d keep Bottas and release Ocon, perhaps to Renault, where he can grow without having Hamilton as a team-mate and perhaps prove me, and Mercedes, wrong.
David BR (@david-br)
11th August 2019, 13:36
Neither. Ricciardo would have been ideal, they should have signed him last season. It’s basically waiting to see if Russell or Norris are equal, more or less, to Verstappen, or trying to sign the latter himself in 2021. Ocon looks less likely to be on the same level and by his record would cause team frictions with Hamilton. So maybe Bottas another year and more time to decide is their only real option. Sainz might also be an interesting stop gap, no idea about his contract though.
11th August 2019, 15:00
@david-br well apparently they would have but they signed Bottas before Riciardo made his decision. Ricciardo would have stayed at RB if they gave him what he wanted.
2020 next big shake up.
David BR (@david-br)
11th August 2019, 15:36
@johnrkh Mercedes seemed to rush into extending Bottas’s contract last season, it was puzzling that they didn’t wait longer, maybe because the fight with Ferrari was closer and they wanted to keep him motivated?
11th August 2019, 14:30
Disappointed that Lance Stroll want an option.
11th August 2019, 15:35
At this stage of his carrer Ocon would be a catastrophic choice for Mercedes team. It is “no brainer” as English say if a choice between Bottas and Ocon. I am very sad that there are no other options. Ricciardo or Alonso.
11th August 2019, 16:36
All the above comments seem to be working on the basis that Mercedes will continue in F1 In 2021. I think they will quit along with Renault and possibly Hass. The 2nd driver for Mercedes is not really a big issue but they would like to go out on a winning run so probably keep Bottas and find Ocon a drive elsewhere. 2021 will see a problem for pu supply depending if Mercedes and Renault decide to continue as PU suppliers only. 2021 3 car teams Ferrari, Honda PU s ??
11th August 2019, 17:01
Ocon for me. Hamilton is a fantastic driver but needs someone in the team to be a challenge to his supremacy, that isn’t Bottas, Hamilton is also most likely going to have 5 or 6 seasons more at best. The younger drivers need to be in these seats in the same way ferrari are now doing it. There in no point investing in drivers in lower categories if you won’t put them in the car…. Ocon now, Russell when Hamilton quits.
11th August 2019, 20:26
That’s a actually a good point.
Ferrari has dropped Raikkonen for a younger driver. Redbull also has a relatively young driver at its helm.
In terms of championship strategy Mercedes will need to have a younger driver for the longer term.
A young driver learning from the best, whilst he remains the best, would seem to be a win win.
11th August 2019, 17:13
Ocon for myself. It didn’t work that well (team-wise) with Sergio Perez, but :
– Sergio had his share of the blame
– He’s not going to race with Perez but with Hamilton instead
– He’s going to race with HIS team, as opposed to the team he’s being loaned to
– He’ll be a tad older
– He’ll probably get told, very clearly, that he’ll be no.2 (to Lewis) in 2020, and what he did with Force India where both drivers had equal status isn’t quite relevant
11th August 2019, 17:47
Even without Lauda, who practically was Hamilton’s manager, there is no way Bottas will be changed as it’s all about keeping Hamilton happy.
Even when Verstappen replaces Hamilton, I bet Bottas will still be considered the best wingman out there.
11th August 2019, 18:24
Note I cast my vote based on what would be best for the team. If the question was which I’d like to see, or which would be better for fans, I may have voted differently: it would have been a tougher call.
I found the answer to this, though, quite easy and chose Bottas. Apart from the last couple of races, he has been a dependable, solid and consistent driver for Mercedes. For them to win championships (driver and constructor), that’s what they need: a top number one driver from the very highest tier and a number two able to bring in solid points hauls, defend their number one and capable of winning traces where the number one hits trouble. It’s also best if that driver doesn’t get in the way of their number one, trip him up or take too many points from him. Teams like Ferrari have used this strategy to brilliant effect over the years, and for Mercedes I think the choice right now should be relatively easy.
11th August 2019, 19:06
As a Mercedes fan, I want them to keep Bottas. He is strong, reliable and it would be hard to find a better team player among the current F1 drivers. At the same time, it has become pretty clear that he will never be able to beat Hamilton to the world championship title, even if Hamilton is not always at the top of his game or has some bad luck. There will never be another Abu Dhabi 2016 with Bottas and Hamilton at the team.
As an F1 fan, I want to see fierce rivalries between team mates, I want to see tension and feud. Bahrain 2014 and Spain 2016 are the races that make F1 great, not Russia 2018. As my love for F1 is stronger than my love for Mercedes, I say Ocon.
I am not sure if Ocon can match Hamilton (at the moment it seems that there is only one active F1 driver, who would almost certainly do that and he is going to stay at Red Bull.) But I would like to see Ocon at the wheel of what will hopefully be the best car on the grid in 2020 and watch what he can do with it.
Kenny Schachat (@partofthepuzzle)
11th August 2019, 19:27
As a fan, I’d love to see Ocon get a chance next year. OTOH, if you look at the big picture, Bottas has been the perfect teammate for Hamilton. Right there to pick up wins and podium point whenever Hamilton isn’t on top and pushes Lewis hard in qualifying. What more can they want?
Too bad that testing has been almost eliminated (due to costs, of course).
11th August 2019, 22:05
No Mazepin? ;-)
Jim from US (@jimfromus)
11th August 2019, 22:21
I feel that Mercedes is letting the discussion occur in an attempt to light a fire under Bottas’ behind. This talk of what Hamilton needs is pure manure. Mercedes wants the best 2 drivers and wants those drivers to finish 1-2 in the standings. Period.
Darryn Smith (@darryn)
11th August 2019, 23:35
Neither have shown anything worth having a seat in the top team and deserve doesn’t even come into this. Move on to someone else. Use Bottas as a placeholder until then.
12th August 2019, 2:00
This is just like back in the dominant Schumacher days. Irvine or Barrichello? Massa or Barricihello? It really does not matter. Unless there is another “once in a generation” talent that is going to give old HAM a run for his money(VER or LEC), then you might as well go for a mistake free journeyman driver. Stick with BOT. He’s the Johnny Herbert of his generation. A couple wins when #1 cant win, or the once a year one off win. What more do Mercedes want? If they win every race, then F1 is as good as dead.
Start bringing in new talent (OCO), and see how it goes. Mercedes are treading a fine line. They don’t want to be like Porsche and kill the series by dominating and making it boring, oh, wait……………
12th August 2019, 8:06
Personally i think Bottas is a step above Ocon. Ocon will get his chance, which i think will come from a loan to another team for a while then after a year, he will replace Bottas which is what i think Mercedes really want.
12th August 2019, 8:45
If it was up to me it would be Alonso. Would be fascinating to watch them repeat the 2008 rivalry. And stop the endless hypothetical arguments online (probably not :-) ). Alonso would have no more excuses, and Hamilton a proper team mate.
Would be great for the fans, but there is no reason for Mercedes to do this. They will win both championships with any drivers they put in that car. If Magnussen and Grosjean drove the Mercedes between 2014 and 2019 they would be multiple world champions by now.
12th August 2019, 8:48
2007 of course
12th August 2019, 9:10
So much talk about Ocon, I must have missed something when he actually sat in an F1 car. As I remember it he was pretty avarage driver, just like Bottas, cat really see the point of putting him in the merc. If they want to replace Bottas it should be with someone with real future potential, not just a swap because Toto have a bad conscience for leaving Ocon sitting on a bench :)
Jose Lopes da Silva
12th August 2019, 9:39
Russell is very impressive and a world-class genius because he’s English.
Mansell and Hill were too.
12th August 2019, 17:18
@keithcollantine – Needed an option for “some other driver.” I have an opinion, but it is neither of those two.
13th August 2019, 16:45
Ocon should get Grosjean’s, Giovinazzi’s, KMag’s or Hulkenberg’s seat next year, ordered from should be likely to less likely
Probably Bottas relegates to midfield, but then there are many more proven guys than Ocon to take the Mercedes’s seat
Today’s F1 is too pricy to afford teammate pairings like Hamilton and Alonso or Verstappen
Altough as i think there are less paydrivers now than in some previous decades, so
maybe a bit later we can see some unavoidable mega pairing like Senna vs Prost
New rookies are quite cool and well selected now, hugely due to the quite high requirements of
superlicense points, this way everyone is excluded without atleast some years of better than mediocre results at the best of development series or sportscar racing, Super Formula etc., this is a very decent
Altough there are still some guys who should go somewhere else. But its all about the money :P
19th August 2019, 7:26
For 2020, whoever is Hamilton’s team mate will be world champ runner up or 3rd, as with this year, so stick with Bottas. Better the devil you know.
27th October 2019, 13:58
I really like Ocon, but I don’t hate Bottas. It was a grave injustice what happened to Ocon at Singapore 2018 and an outrage. I think that at Renault next year Estaban will be able to grow and flourish into the world-class driver that he is. Then a Mercedes or Ferrari contract will come, while that s-o-b Perez is still floundering at RP.
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