Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Red Bull Ring, 2020

Why Mercedes prefer Hamilton and Bottas over Vettel or Russell for 2021

2020 British Grand Prix

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Mercedes is expected to extend the contracts of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas into next season. The team has stated its commitment to its current driver line-up, and ruled out the likeliest alternatives on the grid at present.

“We are very happy with the line-up that we have,” said team principal Toto Wolff in Hungary.

“Valtteri and Lewis perform well, they get on really well with each other which is important for the dynamic within the team. And the engineers just really appreciate their feedback.”

Ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend, Williams confirmed Mercedes junior driver George Russell will remain at the team for the 2021 F1 season.

Mercedes has resorted to plucking a driver from Williams before – Bottas had been confirmed as Lance Stroll’s team mate for 2017 before being plucked to replace Nico Rosberg. However Wolff stressed the team intends to respect the arrangement it has with Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams.

George Russell, Williams, Hungaroring, 2020
Russell looks unlike to ‘do a Bottas’
“George has a contract with Williams, a three-year contract which runs one more year. Claire made it very clear that she sees George as an important asset to the team and in that respect one must respect the contractual situation.

“We, George and us, knew what we were getting ourselves into. Two years ago, Williams gave George the opportunity to come into Formula 1 and this is why the decision that Williams takes we respect that very much.

“On the other side, it doesn’t mean that if George would be free, he would find a guaranteed slot within Mercedes. Valtteri and Lewis are our drivers today. Loyalty is something that is very important to us and we are always looking at the long term picture. George is certainly part of the plans for the long term, but not for 2021.”

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While Russell’s plans for 2021 are set, those of four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel remain unknown. Would Mercedes consider hiring him? Pairing Vettel with Hamilton would create a formidable line-up when measured by their combined achievements: 10 world championships and well over 100 grand prix victories, and counting.

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Hungaroring, 2020
Vettel is on his way out of Ferrari
But Hamilton and Bottas have kept the silverware flowing at Mercedes, without generating the kind of animosity which prevailed between the previous pairing. As technical director James Allison explained, they have no reason to tamper with a winning formula.

“Why would we wish to move away from a line-up that has produced such strong results, a respect across the garage between our two drivers that has been evident for all to see, and a level of performance from both men that I think many people up and down the pit lane would envy?

“Why would we want to step away from something that is clearly working and try something else, which is fraught with – yes, maybe some opportunity – but also lots of bear traps in it too.”

The only caveat to the above, as Wolff has indicated before, is if a replacement is needed for either of its drivers. That possibility alone is surely why Vettel is yet to firm up his plans for 2021.

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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87 comments on “Why Mercedes prefer Hamilton and Bottas over Vettel or Russell for 2021”

  1. Pretty effective everything at Mercedes right now. Such harmony is so rare but so impressive while one teammate seeks the outright victory record and the other when not leading himself provides a tough time for his teammate. A dream for team owners.
    The only thing to stop this juggernaut is 2022 when the next gen of F1 car is born.

    Maybe Mercedes builds a pile but as long as the money river keeps flowing that idea seems very unlikely.

    2022 may bring Hamilton his 100th victory and a ninth Drivers Championship. That record will NEVER be surpassed.

    1. Everyone though Schumacher’s records were hard to break – and where are we just 16 years on? In 20 years, especially when kids will be still more and more specialized and will be entering at still younger age, Hamilton’s records will be there to break too.

      1. Yeah, we all thought (or hoped) Schumacher’s records would never be broken, but along came a new era in F1 and showed us all that a team with a disgustingly excessive budget can keep building cars that are simply faster than their competitors.
        When Mercedes has dwindled or left the sport, another team will likely take over their position and will be dominant for many years and then we’ll say the same things about whichever lucky driver got that seat. “They are the most talented driver ever and their records will never be broken…”
        Until the next time after that. And so on…

        1. That ‘disgustingly excessive budget’ is significantly lower than that of the Ferrari team! 😂
          It seems there is more to excelling at F1 than just money.

        2. and then a team will come along with a smaller budget than Ferrari, doesn’t need FIA assistance, (or the son of the FIA embedded in their team) doesn’t need special tyres, doesn’t need unlimited testing at its own personal track……….and meanwhile the people who look at someones racing line and not understand what they are doing, or are unable to see from the onboards what makes one driver a cut above the other will say; it’s the car!
          meanwhile F1 will carry on with most recognising that in general the best drivers end up in the best cars, and the best usually win.

          1. Lol! I love this comment! Couldn’t agree more.

          2. @ian dearing
            Please, if you would be so kind, enlighten me as to how your comment relates to mine? Seeing as you replied to me.
            I know you love to push the Hamilton wheelbarrow in every comment, but you’ll notice that I made no comment whatsoever about Mercedes’ drivers. The car is good (really good) and the team spends huge wads of cash – fact.
            There are several drivers in F1 who could be multiple champion if they had been driving the Merc over the last 6 or 7 years instead of the relatively uncompetitive cars they were stuck in.

            Oh, BTW. I don’t like Ferrari at all. Bag them out all you want.
            I’m also not a Schumacher fan – my point was just that I (and most F1 viewers, I imagine) don’t want to see that level of domination and one-sided ‘competition’ regardless of who the driver is or which team they drive for. Certainly not for this length of time.
            Everyone but the most ardent Hamilton lover (and even some who are) are getting a bit tired of it all.

          3. Sports is about domination. It’s unfortunate that some so-called F1 fans don’t understand this. In their mind F1 is like WWE, and the ‘show’ needs to be spiced up from time to time. This thought is shameful. There is a clear difference between WWE and sports. F1 is a sport and not some soap opera strictly for entertainment like WWE. Juventus has won the serie A title for the past 9 years. That is utter domination, and no one has asked football rules to be changed. Roger, Nadal and Novak have completely dominated Tennis for the past 2 decades. Shall we change Tennis rules or stop paying top dollars for GS winners so others can catch up? Messi and Ronaldo have won the last 11 of the 12 Ballon D’or. That is total domination, and yet it is not boring. Eras come and go: Red Bull, Ferrari, Mclaren, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Chicago Bulls, etc. Merc’s era will come to an end at some point. Until then enjoy F1 as a sport, and not as some Netflix or WWE show.

          4. @S I lean towards a prediction that once we have the wholly new cars and budgets etc etc there will not be another run of domination like LH/Mercedes and MS/Ferrari. I think Championships from 2022 onward are going to have to be harder fought and won as slightly faster cars won’t have the luxury of dirty air to help defend positions lap after lap, using set pacing to control the field and the race and conserve the car with lift and coast once a lead has been established. Leaders will not have the luxury to slow down and conserve, or they’ll be swallowed up. We going to have a return of the art of defending that drs passes do not allow for.

          5. RythmDivine That argument has been trotted out countless times over the decades, and it just doesn’t work. Oh for sure you are right that individuals dominate their sports sometimes and that is not new. However, the glaring difference between car racing and football and tennis as you cite is that the players have equivalent equipment and their performance comes strictly down to how they do against their teammates and their competing players.

            In car racing it is anywhere from 80% to 95% about the car, full stop. LH is a great driver and will be considered amongst the greats, but you cannot tell me he is the only driver that would have ever been able to capitalize on such a dominant car for such a long run. Same with MS and his run. And people don’t rate Vettel very highly, and I certainly don’t hear of him considered amongst the greats, yet…4 time WDC. Do you think the car had something to do with that?

            In car racing it very much starts with what car any given driver has under them on a given day, race, season, or run of seasons. Of course there are better drivers than others, but we always have to be mindful of the equipment they have under them and the team and the money they have behind them.

          6. @RythmDivine.
            Sport isn’t about domination, it is about competition and success. Usually on an equal playing field – something F1 will probably never have (due to the consistent argument that that’s what Indycar or F2 or whatever is for).
            All of those sports you listed are human-only and do not involve the inequality-producing advantages/disadvantages of the performance and reliability of an outside factor. Comparing motorsport to ballsports is akin to apples and oranges… The only possibly comparable major sport to motorsport that I can think of is horse racing. Even the best jockey will lose with a slow horse, and the fastest horse has an exceptionally good chance even with a mediocre jockey.

            BTW, I don’t consider myself an ‘F1 fan’ – I’m certainly a long-time viewer, but I get my sporting kicks elsewhere, from real sports that reward outright human achievement rather than bank balances.
            Don’t forget – F1 is an entertainment business, as is all sport.

          7. @robbie
            I wish I felt the same.
            Unfortunately, the experience from most other series that have gone one-make or one-spec still tends to permit extended periods of one-team or ‘few-team’ dominance. Perhaps even encourage it, as the ‘best’ staff tend to migrate to the most successful team.
            F1 isn’t going that far, obviously, but I don’t think competition will greatly improve without massively altering the sporting regulations.
            The words ‘reverse-grid’ and ‘success-ballast’ are basically swearing in F1 circles – but surely nobody can deny that they would both increase F1 competition. No driver gets an easy run with either of those systems, no matter how good their car is.

          8. S
            Is there really any sport where money doesn’t matter?

            Even the Olympics have a very strong relation to budget allocation from the participating countries.

            Let alone real commercial sports where this link is much more clear. In IndyCar and F2 it’s glaringly apparent too. Only 2 or 3 teams really fight for the championship there too.

            Besides, Mercedes is hardly the one with the biggest budget. There are 2 other teams with the same budget.

          9. S>> Usually on an equal playing field – something F1 will probably never have (due to the consistent argument that that’s what Indycar or F2 or whatever is for).
            All of those sports you listed are human-only and do not involve the inequality-producing advantages/disadvantages of the performance and reliability of an outside factor.

            I’m still surprised there are so many people visiting, and commenting on, this site who don’t understand that F1 is a team sport. The driver is only one small part, the other members of the team are responsible for the PU, chassis, and strategy.

            A ‘level’ playing field means the same technical and sporting regulations; not all 20 drivers racing in the same car.
            Mesi didn’t win the Liga this year, but many still consider him the best player in Spain.

          10. Sure, most sports can function without money.
            How much does it cost to train as a marathon runner? How expensive is it to become a soccer player? How much do you need to spend to play baseball or basketball?
            And would it make that much difference if you were poor or a billionaire? You’ve still got to put the effort in.

          11. @coldfly
            Thanks, yes I know exactly what F1 is and how it works.
            The rules are indeed the same for all, but the realistic opportunity for success is not.

            Perhaps you’d like to join me on my team in a match of doubles tennis against Federer and Nadal?
            BTW, I can’t afford a proper racket, so I’ll have to make do with a stick and some fishing line.
            Would we have an equal opportunity for success, do you think?

          12. Perhaps you’d like to join me on my team in a match of doubles tennis against Federer and Nadal?
            BTW, I can’t afford a proper racket, so I’ll have to make do with a stick and some fishing line.
            Would we have an equal opportunity for success, do you think?

            No worries, that’ll work for me. S
            I’ll get that bearded guy on board to sponsor us and pay for Djoko and Thiem; promote you to become a ball-person; assume the managerial role myself; and get a proper equipment partner.

            Level playing field and good management will give us a fair shot at winning.

          13. Juventus has won the serie A title for the past 9 years

            RythmDivine,

            You are just looking at the end result. In a sport where competing at the highest level is associated with money, Juventus domination in Serie A is just inspirational to say the least. They laid the foundation to that domination when they were already in Serie B, It’s exactly the same as a former GP2 team is currently dominating F1.

            They first made the decision to build a new Stadium in 2008 which was ready in 2011 and they have funded the construction throughout loans that were later paid by the club. The commune of Turin was also generous with regard to the area surrounding the Stadium which was bought by the club. When Andrea Agnelli took over in 2010, the club was already 7th in the standings and the trend continued the next year with Juventus having gone through their worst ever year even worse than the 91 season (annus horribilis) with Montezemolo as a president & Maifredi as a coach.

            The first year which was key to their domination, Juventus have little or no money to buy big players. They went for some free agents exceptional players like Pirlo & Barzagli and recruited other players like Vidal, Vucinic and Antonio Conte did a great job valorizing the players at his disposal. In 2012, Milan was the team to beat, however Juventus were champions and the rest is history.

            In 2010, Juventus were nowhere near the big clubs in Italy in terms of budget let alone Europe but throughout smart business and sporting decisions they managed to increase the brand’s value year after year to the point they become the first club in Italy way off the competition and among the top five in the world in terms of Brand Value, budget, revenues and social followings and they did this while respecting the sever UEFA financial fair play.

            That is utter domination, and no one has asked football rules to be changed

            You seem to be malinformed with that regard, Napoli’s president Aurelio De Laurentis has already stated that he will be pushing the league to change the current Serie A championship format to a Play Off/ Paly Out format to stop Juventus domination.

          14. at least one incident is forgotten already it seems.. tire testing anyone?

          15. @tifoso1989 – what’s the difference between that Juventus story and Mercedes since 2010?

            @robbie – it will be interesting to see what you think and say if Max ends up on a streak of 2 or 3 championships starting 2022. Even if the racing is closer, I can bet that you’ll still see the same complaints about domination.

            @S – are you seriously saying that there is realistic opportunity for success in any sport for everyone? Just because F1 takes the need for resources to the extreme doesn’t mean it is that much different for tennis or golf. And like many have continually mentioned, there are three teams with large budgets and only one is winning championships. I don’t know how much money Honda has thrown at it’s PUs but I am sure bet it isn’t peanuts. Why is it so hard to accept F1 as an engineering competition and respect those that end up on top? Have we already forgotten about Toyota?

          16. @coldfly
            Well, if you are funding our team so well, then sure, we aren’t at a disadvantage anymore, are we.
            Doing it on shoestring budget with a lack of preparation and development would put us at a distinct disadvantage to our competitors though, don’t you think?

            @sebsronnie
            For the sportsperson in question – yeah, I think for most sports, money is not the limit to their potential.
            The harder they work, the more determination they have, the more sacrifices they make, the more genetically advantaged they are and the more opportunity (and ‘luck’) they get, the greater their chance of success. None of those factors are reliant on money. You’ve got to be good at what you do to get anywhere in most sports.
            Motor sport is a little different – where money can obviously open a lot of doors for drivers. But that, in itself, doesn’t create talent, and it certainly doesn’t guarantee success. Hence why many categories have Pro-Am or Am classes – often essentially wealthy individuals who are good enough and keen enough to race, but do not do it professionally, and rarely have the same skill level as those who do.

            As for the car – well, the more money that is spent on development and refinement, the greater the chances of success. No guarantees here either, obviously, but almost certainly greater chances… The more development paths that can be explored, the further those paths are taken, the more knowledge is gained.
            Money can also buy in talented staff, of course, and greater numbers of them.

            Wow, some people really seem sensitive to any inference that Mercedes’, Red Bulls’ and Ferrari’s budgets might go some way to contributing to their performance and success. Is it really a surprise that the three biggest spending teams have been the top 3 in race and championship results for most of the last decade or two in particular? And for most of F1’s modern history?
            I have never said “the biggest spender will always win” but reading some of these comments, you’d think I had said that.

          17. @sebsronnie For sure it will be interesting if Max gets 2 or 3 Championships in a row starting in 2022, but that of course remains to be seen. I would say a couple of years of it isn’t enough to bother people or make them want change, unless of course they are not fans, but I just anticipate/hope that the Championships will be closer and not decided with 5 or 6 races to go, so I think a run of dominance will not be as ‘boring’ for some as it normally would be.

            @S True that even a spec series can have it’s dominant players but I think much can be said for a series that is close and that at least has more than one driver with a true chance as the season gets down to the last few races.

          18. @sebsronnie
            Mercedes has never been a GP2 like team in 2010. In fact, they invested billions into their F1 program since their return and they were heavily recruiting people even in top management positions. They used to have many technical directors at the same time. Bob Bell, Aldo Costa, Geoff Willis… which were reporting to Ross Brawn.

            It’s just RBR that mastered the aero in the 2010-2013 and even back then Mercedes were showing speed from time to time especially from 2012 onward. Mercedes from the start were top spenders and prepared like no else to the hybrid era.

            The difference between Juventus and Mercedes in 2010 is that Juventus started their sporting success with little or no money (Napoli had a bigger budget than Juventus at the time) which helped growing their brand to the point they can finally be able to sign a superstar like Ronaldo.

            On the other hand Mercedes were top spenders from the beginning recruited a whole team and a 7 times WDC Schumacher who two years later was replaced by a more expensive driver Hamilton and have had the backing of their mother company Daimler with regard to technology access and as for the brand growth, apart from social following there is nothing compared to what Juventus has done. Their brand is losing in sales and share prices and they are cutting jobs everywhere.

        3. ferrari’s budget is way higher and yet, here we are. we have to respect what mercedes is doing, and despise its competitors for lacking the ability to bring competition; not the contrary

    2. Yup cars will be closer afterward so it will be hard for Verstappen even when Hamilton retires. Not to mention Max will get frustrated and burnt out when he sees all the youngest records passing him by.

      1. I think the next era will be about the skill and craft of the driver.
        The technology with less spending will even-out. Teams will catch up, or bunch up, and then it will be about the skill of the driver.

        We occasionally see this when the weather conditions aren’t favorable to out and out pace.
        Drivers with that edge, drivers like Hamiliton will still be in demand.

  2. But why would there be a need for a replacement for VB if the intention is to keep him? Only if they’d let him go. I doubt he’d leave on his own.

    1. Maybe they mean Hamilton might decide to retire. It’s not unheard of for a reigning champion to do that after all, is it?

      1. He’ll be an eight time World Champion after next season. Why would he retire before that?

        1. @spafrancorchamps

          Exactly. I can see Hamilton retiring at the end of next year though, before the new rules come in. In doing so, he will walk away as 8 time world champion, with close to or more than a 100 wins. Nothing left to prove at that point.

          .

          1. Yep, but I think he enjoys driving too much.

        2. I don’t see it, but I think he is one of those drivers that will come back into the pits, say this doesn’t do it for me anymore, and walk away.
          I think also if he does break the records to retire undefeated closes his career off in the way he would like.

          1. Nigel McLaren
            29th July 2020, 17:04

            Hamilton loves F1. He is highly motivated and I could see him pulling the plug at 9. I believe he wants to beat all of the major records and he is quite happy to pick off the small ones.

          2. I think Bottas will have a chance at the title before the new erea of cars begins.
            I think Mercedes will do what they did for Rosberg and make it a closer season, [DNF’s not withstanding].

            Hamilton is competitive but i don’t think he would begrudge the title going to Bottas next year.
            Then we’ll see what Mercedes are made. The start of the new era, is when we’ll see if Hamilton really wants that History defining 8th win.

  3. The Merc, Wolff, Hamilton, Bottas combination is imo the bet on the grid. The harmonics are obviously very good and with no real changes to the cars allowed why upset the balance.
    Talking of the fact that development is basically frozen I would imagine the heat inside the RB garage will be increasing if they can’t find a fix for the car.

  4. Why Mercedes prefer Hamilton and Bottas over Vettel or Russell for 2021
    Why F1’s new engine factory shutdown suited Honda better than Ferrari
    Why Mercedes are braced for a Red Bull resurgence
    Why F1’s return to Imola hasn’t been called the ‘San Marino Grand Prix’
    Why Ocon said he never wants to repeat “horrible” Hungarian GP weekend

    So many questions recently on the site… what is it with this trend? why not “Is Russell career over now that Mercedes chose Hamilton and Bottas?”

    1. @fer-no65

      So many questions recently on the site… what is it with this trend? why not “Is Russell career over now that Mercedes chose Hamilton and Bottas?”

      The headline may start with the word “why”, but these are not questions, they are explanations, hence no “?” at the end of the sentence

      1. You could remove the “Why” and the headline still makes sense.

    2. I’m sure any team would happily sign Russell if he wasn’t tied to Mercedes for a promise they’ll offer him a ride in the future. I wish McLaren could snatch him from Mercedes but Ricciardo – Norris pairing is also solid.

  5. I’ve always found these why articles a little bit tabloid and clickbaity. Not sure if it’s a conscious editorial decision to up them recently (there seems to be a new one every day at the minute) but I’m not a big fan…

    On topic though I really can’t see Vettel ending up at Merc now. Above everything else I don’t think Toto would leave Bottas in the cold like that.

  6. Iskandar Mazlan
    29th July 2020, 9:42

    Maybe next year 2021 100th pole & victory

  7. Why change a winning formula? Hamilton and Bottas are guaranteed to fight for the win every race that they participate, given the performance of the car. They need two drivers that can win consistently, and both of them have been doing that. Not like Red Bull who has one driver miles ahead, while the other is just 30-40 seconds behind. If I were Mercedes, I would only consider dropping Bottas or Hamilton if one of them consistently finishes behind the other by 30+ seconds.

    I wonder if Bottas saying that he had minor set backs with his car and possible mind games with Hamilton. Although, I am not yet considering it mind games because he referred to two races, and he was asked the question. I wonder if doing this means that he thinks his seat is under threat. I mean… Vettel, Russell and Perez would love to be part of Mercedes right?

    1. @krichelle
      “ Not like Red Bull who has one driver miles ahead, while the other is just 30-40 seconds behind.”

      The only reason why Bottas in general is not that far behind is because Lewis doesn’t need to push like Verstappen,
      given the dominance of his car, but the moment he needs to, the gap between Lewis and Vallteri is pretty much the same (except qualifying) as the gap between Max and Albon.
      Hungary 2019 and Brasil 2019 are pretty good examples (or the entire 2017 and 2018 seasons)

  8. Because Mercedes are among one of the most risk averse teams on the grid.
    If I’m correct the last driver to come out of a Mercedes junior programme and making it to the Mercedes F1 team was Michael Schumacher, 25 years after finishing the programme.
    People might be RB a ribbing for burning through drivers but atleast at RB you know you will get a chance at MB that’s not so sure.

    1. Excellent point. When did Mercedes ever do that?

      To be honest George is over at Williams, hardly a junior program.

      1. Williams is also hardly a competitive F1 team.

        1. An unfortunate side-effect of the manufacturer junior driver programs.
          They encourage new talent, but there just aren’t enough places within that manufacturer’s top teams to give everyone the opportunity to show how good they are.

          Ocon is a good example. He had to leave the manufacturer in order to find a seat.
          Will Russell need to do the same?

          1. Ocon is a good example. He had to leave the manufacturer in order to find a seat.

            I think Ocon is only a good example of drivers in junior programmes thinking that they are better than their bosses believe they are. There is not a lack of seats, but an abundance of ego’s.
            Ocon is currently not as good as Hamilton, and the team doesn’t believe he will be as good as Russell* in the future.

            * or whoever they believe will be their future star.

          2. Fair assessment, @coldfly. The thing with Mercedes bosses, though, is there is a pattern: they certainly regarded Ocon higher than Wehrlein. But now we have two great prospects overlooked and on the way for the third, which seems to be just on hold for the new junior star upcome so that the academy disposal device can trigger.

          3. Of course there are large egos. That’s F1.
            And there are only 20 seats with generally only a very small number available each year. If you’re out, it’s much harder to get back in.
            Had Ocon waited with Mercedes, his best years may have passed by the time he gets another opportunity.
            That’s fine for Mercedes, of course – they’ll just get someone else. But it’s not fine for Ocon.

            My point being that had Ocon stayed with Mercedes, he may never have got a competitive drive anyway, so why stay locked inside the Mercedes brand? I’m sure most F1 hopefuls are grateful for their manufacturer funding getting them to F1’s doorstep, but beyond that they just want to be in the fastest race car.
            Or any car. You can’t get anywhere as an F1 driver without actually driving.

  9. Jose Lopes da Silva
    29th July 2020, 9:47

    “Loyalty is something that is very important to us”

    It’s important that Mercedes keeps remembering us why is still refusing to hire Alonso.

  10. Well Hamilton is fast and Bottas comes from a minority – a good #2 driver.

    1. You also have to see the Mercedes drivers in terms of how they promote the Brand.

      Hamilton Jet set life style promotes one image of the Mercedes brand, whilst the relatively conservative Bottas promotes another aspect of the Brand. Mercedes lucked out when it comes to that aspect of brand image. They have the only Driver in F1 with that instant appeal to the rest of the world, beyond Europe.

      I can’t see them giving that up any time soon. :)

  11. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    29th July 2020, 12:19

    Russell, and Norris really – have the comfort of being in a backmarker & midfielder respectively. It lets them learn and make mistakes when people don’t expect magic from them. They can be inconsistent sometimes, make mistakes, even be slow – and people will accept that as part of learning. It means when they’re good they look fantastic. When they’re average nobody notices. Unlike Albon, who comparatively has less experience than them but is in a frontrunner, and gets a lot of stick for making mistakes or not being 100% on the pace immediately. All three are good, let them grow.

    Leaving Russell (and Norris) at ‘lower’ teams gives them the space to grow. They’ll become better racers without the added pressure of driving what should be an immediate racewinner. At Mercedes specifically, Bottas is capable of winning if Hamilton isn’t, and Hamilton can clean up when he’s on form. There’s literally no need to change the lineup – especially when you have Russell, Norris and probably Ocon hanging around.

    Also it’s Mercedes. It’s not like they’ll be short of people wanting that seat.

  12. Hamilton is the one maximizing Mercedes potential, Bottas has been crap in recent years from a performance standpoint and could not mount a championship challenge in arguably one of the best ever teams. In 2017, he finished 3rd in the standings and in 2018 he finished 5th and was beaten by a semi-retired Raikkonen.

    From 2019 onward Mercedes stepped up in the performance and are back to their 2014-2016 form having a massive advantage over the rest of the field to the point that Bottas can easily finish second in the championship. The problem with Bottas is not that he is not on Hamilton’s level, I believe neither Rosberg was talent wise, but he never showed that he is prepared to race or even upset him in anyway. He is just driving the car around the racetracks and is happy playing the wingman.

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      29th July 2020, 13:52

      Bottas was actually closer to Hamilton in the points in his very first season against Hamilton compared to Rosberg Vs Hamilton in 2014. Basically, had 2014 been like 2017 to now, Rosberg will possibly have been 3rd that year.

      Bottas hasn’t been crap. That is an unreasonable way of putting it. 2018 and 5th wasn’t realistic. He didn’t help the case by having several weak races, but he also had a very unlucky year. You can put it as simply as this: had there been no saftety car in china, he would have won and been 3rd in the standings. He missed 2 fully deserved wins that year (russia and china), and possibly as many as 5 that would have had an element of luck in them. Those 3 being Baku, germany and Britain. Baku, well it was obvious that he would have won without the puncture. Germany, there was a very strong chance he could have got by Hamilton on the restart at the end, but he was instructed not to, and he obeyed the orders. Britain was another chance that was lucky given the safety car that got him ahead, but had he pitted later with a strategy that didn’t got beyond the tyres suggested running life, he likely will have kept Vettel behind and won.

      Bottas’s 2nd half to 2018 make people remember that season as all being bad. The first half was excellent and by the end of the season given who he’s up against, I would still say it was decent, but just admittedly was his worst at this team. But he certainly hasn’t been as bad as you are suggesting. We also should factor in that Rosberg had so much experience at the team before Hamilton joined. Now Bottas is the one with far less experience than Hamilton. I’ll be honest, with the disadvantage Bottas has in that area, he really isn’t worse than Rosberg IMO.

      Rather than so much criticism towards Bottas, I think you should also note that Hamilton is clearly an incredibly strong driver. Bottas looks worse to many because of who he’s against. He clearly has great one lap pace (maybe not in the wet) but he quite often can closely match or beat the driver with the record number of poles which is quite something. We can’t expect a driver to match or even get close to everything Hamilton can do. Bottas does enough for what the team wants.

      1. “compared to Rosberg Vs Hamilton in 2014”

        Rosberg lost 50 points in the final race because of the idiotic double points in Abu Dhabi and a car failure. Up until the last race, the difference between Hamilton and Rosberg was 17 points. So yeah, Bottas was closter in 2017 with 48 points, but only because of the double points in 2014. Besides that, Rosberg did way better in 2013, 2015 and 2016 in comparison to Hamilton then Bottas did in 2018 or 2019, with Bottas being 151 and 87 points behind. So your statement is a little bit stupid. Yes, generally Hamilton was faster then Rosberg. But Rosberg was usualy closer to Hamilton then Bottas is.

      2. @thegianthogweed

        2014 isn’t a fair comparison. The last race was double points giving Hamilton 50 in a race where Rosberg had a problem with his power unit falling back out of the points

        Rosberg was ahead in the championship for a considerable portion of 2014. Almost entirely due to reliability issues for Hamilton granted, but Rosberg was a serious challenge for Hamilton in 2014

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          29th July 2020, 17:17

          Fair enough. Though I also should add that Bottas has had at least one more DNF every year and also worse luck overall compared to Hamilton. Another thing that makes the points gap look bigger.

      3. @thegianthogweed – The comparison isn’t quite fair without caveat. You forgot(?) to note that in 2014 the final race had double points, which was entirely ridiculous. When you actually account for that the difference in 2014 between HAM-ROS was 42pts and in 2017 HAM-BOT was 59pts. Even if we include the insanity of a double points race, it would have been 67 to 59. (However, 2014 was not the first season they were on the same team together and the difference in 2013 was 18pts.)

        I don’t know what the claim of “had 2014 been like 2017 to now, Rosberg will possibly have been 3rd that year” means. Are you saying that because 2017 to now have been closer and therefore Rosberg would have been 3rd? I’m not sure how he would have dropped his 80pt advantage. But I guess anything is possible.

        I also think you are too quick to dismiss that Bottas went winless in 2018 when the car had 11 wins under Hamilton. Was the 2018 car really worse or less competitive than the 2012 and 2013 cars were? “The first half [of 2018] was excellent…” Was it? Looking at the first 11 races, he had 5 podiums. While all were second place finishes, HAM had 8 podiums in the same car, VET had 6 and RAI had 7 in the Ferrari, and VER had 4 in the RBR. This is excellence?

        Hamilton is an excellent driver, agreed. And BOT is not garbage. But while BOT has 12 poles at Mercedes, HAM has 29 in that same period. Compare that to ROS 29 vs HAM 35 over their 4yrs together.

        Bottas fills his role well, and is probably a safer bet for Merc than keeping ROS was. He gets solid points most of the time, plays a good rear-gunner to HAM, and doesn’t stir the pot. But that’s about it.

        1. @hobo
          You have to believe that I didn’t copy the pole stats you posted :)

          1. @tifoso1989 – Wouldn’t even cross my mind. :)

        2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          29th July 2020, 19:29

          Maybe not excellent, but I feel you are somewhat ignoring the bad luck bottas had at that stage of the season. He missed at least 2 podiums due to retirements or being hit (baku and France). You can also maybe add britain as he had gone over the suggested trye life and even Hamilton commented on Bottas’s strategy seeming a bit strange and mentioned that they could have pitted him later. He could well then have won or at least got a podium. This race was rather under rated by many IMO. He restarted the race perfectly over 3 times and defended Vettel very well lap after lap until his tyres had gone. he lucked into the lead, but a loss of a podium was certainly unlucky.

          Regarding you counting podiums, I think they will have been equal by mid season with equal luck. And with Bottas missing a certain win in Baku and China, I’d say he did miss a fair chunk of points over the first half. Certainly well over 30 deserved points. (not including Austria as Hamilton also missed a load there) He still will have been 3rd at the mid season point had he been a bit more lucky, but If I’m honest, I think the Ferrari had been pretty close to mercedes and Vettel and Hamilton were just clearly better than Bottas. I still think his first half of that season was very good on the whole. He was rated 5th best on this site at the time:
          https://www.racefans.net/2018/08/17/2018-mid-season-f1-driver-rankings-part-3/

          After that and you probably can include hungary, he was admittedly very poor.

          I think you comparing poles is also a little unfair. Rosberg had been with the team since 2010, so had far more experience there regarding the pole stats. Hamilton got more, but admittedly only just. Then Bottas comes into a team he’s never been with against Hamilton who now has been there for quite some time in comparison. He’s not as good as Rosberg, But I personally also think Hamilton has got a little better since Rosberg left.

          I don’t want to make it sound like I think Bottas is close to Hamilton – Hamilton is far better. Nor do I think he’s a better racer than Rosberg. But I don’t think 2018 was quite as bad as people think. And he certainly was very solid last year. In the end though, I just think he is better for the team than Rosberg was, but for different reasons. He may not have the pace Rosberg did, But he doesn’t get involved in any incidents with his team mate, as well as less with other drivers. But I think pretty much everyone will agree that he’s a better team mate for Hamilton and the team than Rosberg in this aspect, but I guess some people want more excitement.

          1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
            29th July 2020, 19:40

            @hobo
            Simply read this line taken from the link above. This is adding on from a list of other things that went against him:

            “Throw in a further points swing against him when Vettel ham-fistedly bundled him out of second place at the start in France, and Bottas should clearly be in the thick of the title fight.”

            This is talking about the mid season point. As I suggested, he really wasn’t as bad as people remember him being. It seems to be easier for people to remember and forgive what verstappen did. Start of absolutely terrible (verstappen from Australia to Monaco) and then be far better after. His start almost seemed to be forgotten. Bottas was overall worse, clearly, but just because it is the other way round shouldn’t make people forget how good his start was.

      4. @thegianthogweed
        As @philipgb mentioned there was double points in Abu Dhabi where Hamilton won and Rosberg finished 14th, the 67 point gap was a bit misleading though. In both 2017 & 2018, Bottas was in many races nowhere near Hamilton in terms of race pace. In those races Hamilton was winning or scoring podiums from downtown and he seemed to be driving another car. Example Bahrain 2017, Spain 2017 (before he retired), Canada 2017, Hungary 2017 (nowhere near Hamilton in pace even though he finished ahead), British GP 2017/2018 and the list long.

        Hamilton is indeed an unbelievable competitor, I never said otherwise. However, he is not unbeatable over a season and Bottas isn’t better than Rosberg was in anyway. Rosberg got 29 poles to Hamilton 35 over 4 seasons which is very impressive given Hamilton is a one lap ace. Bottas have only 12 pole positions, it will take at least 2/3 years to reach 29 poles.

        From the moment they were teammates, Rosberg showed that he can race against Hamilton and from 2014 onward he really got under his skin. He will do whatever it takes just to unnerve him and make him feel uncomfortable. Studying his telemetry, copying his set ups, Monaco & Spa incidents in 2014… Bottas criticism is justified because he is very happy just to be driving for Mercedes and be Hamilton’s wingman for the next 20 years which is unusual for racing driver. Even Barrichello has rebelled in Ferrari and left the team.

    2. Bottas is the perfect number two driver for Mercedes. I reckon that once Hamilton retires, even if Russels learns from the Finn, I expect Mercedes to rely on Russell for the coming years and the Finn will be a solid number two driver.

    3. Even if Bottas were good enough and consistent enough to take the fight to Hamilton for the championship – do you really think that Mercedes would allow it?
      Which looks better for them – one of their drivers takes their first championship and their other driver takes second or third in the WDC, or one of their drivers become the most successful F1 driver ever, all while using Mercedes engines and mostly in Mercedes cars?
      I think I know which way I’d bet on the internal politics going,regardless of what they say in public.
      Can’t say I’ve heard Hamilton get the call to let Bottas through too often – certainly heard a few going the other way though.

      1. S

        do you really think that Mercedes would allow it?

        The “allow” it all the time. In fact they even hinder Hamilton in that they don’t allow him to take another strategy to try and get ahead of Bottas anymore.

        1. And Ham has regularly given up his pit stop as leader to protect Bottas from attack. Thereby giving up valuable seconds over whoever is chasing him.

          1. regularly

            well once every season is regular i guess, as a tribute to a teammate that has to give up his leading position.. nice work!

          2. Yeah, okay. I concede that they have allowed it once or twice early in the season when they knew how many races were left to screw Bottas over.
            And a few times late in the season after they knew they already had the championship sewn up for Hamilton…

      2. It looks much better for Mercedes to allow Bottas to race Hamilton knowing he’ll never beat him over a season than to have a better driver who can compete with Hamilton and have to tell them not to race.

    4. Spot on, @tifoso1989. In fact, Bottas hasn’t even matched Webber’s posed threats so far.

    5. Thus far we’ve seen Redbull on the podium when Bottas should have maintained 1 /2 for Mercedes.

      Where before Mercedes were so dominant that they could afford to ‘man-manage’ their drivers, i don’t think they have that luxery. Redbull are so much closer that they will capitalise on any show of weakness by Mercedes.

      This means rather than expect the favor of team orders, Bottas will have to prove he is the better driver.
      That said, Mercedes need to know where they stand if Hamilton retires and Bottas inherits the mantle of lead driver. Is he the kind of driver to get that pole out of nowhere?

  13. Because it’s easier for Toto to keep on worshipping Lewis.
    He has the right mindset to maximize his dominance.

  14. Why would they change? They have a very compliant team mate in bottas, who is fast enough, but cant beat hamilton on a regular basis. The perfect number two.

  15. It works. Why would you bring that petulant fool Vettel into a team that is winning everything without him?

    1. @darryn – Not exactly what I was going to say, but probably a more concise version. :)

      Hamilton is the driver of the era, he dominates. Bottas is a solid, safe #2 driver. Why throw in someone who is either unwilling/unable to adapt (VET), or a young driver who wants to prove himself (RUS)?

      Recall that they planned to keep ROS even with the bad blood between him and HAM. Why wouldn’t they keep a quieter, less threatening version of ROS? BOT gets about as many points, give or take, and HAM doesn’t really have to fight internally, and BOT gets to pad his stats in a way he would not at any other team. It is literally a win-win(-win) for all involved.

  16. George is certainly part of the plans for the long term, but not for 2021

    So, long term = 2022.
    :o)

  17. The Mercedes is fast enough that they don’t need to excellent drivers – an excellent one taking it easy and a decent one pushing like crazy is usually enough to get both drivers on the podium. If Ferrari or Red Bull were closer and put some pressure on the Constructors Championship, Mercedes would make a different decision but as it stands, it’s better to have a Number 2 driver who doesn’t expect to be fighting for the Drivers title.

    1. @petebaldwin Bottas expects or at least hopes to win the drivers title, all drivers would. The difference to Rosberg is that Mercedes clearly won’t tolerate a rivalry that disrupts the team’s harmony and development. I’m sure that was made abundantly clear to Bottas when he signed. So he’s chances are more limited (he can’t do what Button and Rosberg did to try to unsettle Hamilton off track and on).
      Mercedes’ problem is other: how to replace Hamilton. I suspect Verstappen is the targetted replacement, Russell or Norris if they can’t get him. Or Leclerc if Ferrari remain so bad (not likely but who knows).

      1. The only reason there is harmony among the drivers is because Ham’ is not being challenged, If Bottas was threatening to beat Ham’ in the Championship the harmony would disintegrate.

  18. @ All the Hamilton fans…Don’t you think Ham will just carry on even after changes, I mean Merc are winning because of him so will do everything they can to keep him even if they land up with a moped after the changes as he will keep them at the front.

  19. When talking about the GOAT, In almost every other sport, I cant think of any where the equipment plays such a major role in success as it does in motor racing and very much so in F1.
    Soccer, ball and boots?
    Basketball, ball and sneakers?
    Tennis, Racket and sneakers?
    this list goes on forever. Martial arts, Boxing…
    All about the individual skills.
    Not so in F1, among those 20 brilliant drivers, Yes, Ham is outstanding, but several would be just as outstanding given the same situation. F1 is a manufacturers Championship. Drivers Championship is secondary and consequential, marketed and promoted to keep fans coming.

    1. I, as a fan care much more about the WDC. You know why? because drivers are people. People who face trials and tribulations. The constructors are corporate institutions. How can you relate to that?

  20. I think most of the chatter above is pretty accurate.
    Bottas was chosen based on the fact that he would not stir the pot and would ably support Merc in there desire to maximise points and turn Hamilton into the most successful driver ever, to do so you need to have a #2 driver that will consistently score high points behind your chosen #1 or 1st when #1 can’t.
    Hamilton is winning from a very privileged position and is not being called on to outperform any other driver as none of the others have the equipment to compete only Bottas has, and he is not allowed to take the fight to Hamilton (Regardless of what Merc PR says).

    1. @malrg – My only quibble with your post is that I think Bottas would be allowed to fight Hamilton if he remained close in the fight. I don’t think Merc would choose one driver based on 5-15 points difference in the WDC standings. But Bottas tends to fall behind more than that, and even if mathematically capable of catching up, there comes a point when Hamilton gets preference as the lead driver.

      Bottas is far, far too inconsistent to keep the pressure on Hamilton and keep the WDC close over the long haul. If he were to do so, I seriously doubt Merc would take sides. But I also seriously doubt we’ll ever get to test that hypothesis.

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