F1 team mate battles at mid-season: Hamilton vs Bottas

2021 F1 season

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said he will make a decision on his driver line-up for the 2021 F1 season during the summer. With the mid-season break now upon us, has Valtteri Bottas done enough to deserve another year at the team?

Questions over whether Bottas was the right man driver for the job of partnering Lewis Hamilton grew louder following last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix. George Russell’s instantly competitive performance in a one-off appearance in place of Hamilton, leading Bottas for much of the race, cast the driver who’s been at the team for four years in a negative light.

Bottas therefore went into his fifth season as a Mercedes driver needing to justify his position in the team. A haul of 105 points by the summer break, 85 shy of Hamilton, is respectable, but is this level of performance still good enough for Mercedes?

Though Bottas has taken more than one-third of Mercedes’ points, he stacks up less well on other metrics. From the 11 races so far he’s out-qualified Hamilton just three times and beaten him to the only just twice.

Those two occasions demonstrate the sometimes wide differences in performance between the two. Bottas was conclusively quicker than Hamilton in Monaco, yet in Baku two weeks later the picture was very different. While Hamilton took the fight to the Red Bull drivers, Bottas was mired in the midfield. Only Hamilton’s late restart slip-up meant he came in behind his team mate.

This wasn’t the only weekend where Bottas wasn’t just behind Hamilton, but a long way back. At Imola he was on the point of being lapped when he was involved in a monumental crash involving the driver widely tipped to replace him.

At this point in his Mercedes career Bottas is very much a known quantity to the team. His performances alongside Hamilton are wholly respectable given his team mate’s record-breaking form. But over the first half of 2021 there’s been little sign he’s made substantial gains on his team mate compared to previous seasons. Mercedes may well feel the time is right for a change.

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Lewis Hamilton vs Valtteri Bottas: Key stats

Lewis Hamilton vs Valtteri Bottas: Who finished ahead at each round

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Lewis HamiltonQ
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Valtteri BottasQ
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Lewis Hamilton vs Valtteri Bottas: Qualifying gap

Times based on the last qualifying round at each race weekend in which both drivers set a time. Negative indicates Lewis Hamilton was faster, positive means Valtteri Bottas was faster

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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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67 comments on “F1 team mate battles at mid-season: Hamilton vs Bottas”

  1. Mercedes have a tough decision for 2022 now… Next thing is: Sign Russell 2022, and Bottas after the summer break puts on impressive performances to help them in the championship.

    1. It’s only a tough decision if you’re happy to put up with a *very* average driver to keep your superb one feeling secure in his hot-seat.

      If Red Bull had Riccardo and Verstappen and a bit more luck, they’d be all over Mercedes this year…and Merc know it.

      1. I agree with you.

        If Mercedes keep Bottas then they’ve made the decision for non-racing reasons.

        1. Coventry Climax
          9th August 2021, 20:21

          Those reasons being, @sonnycrockett (loved the Jan Hammer tune) that Bottas is doing a terrfific job of not complaining about having to bump out the competition, instead of being allowed to do some actual racing.

          The word ‘battle’ in the headline makes me laugh. Mercedes will never allow that. If I were Russell, I’d think twice before going there and having to play a role like that, with effectively your career over before it’s begun. It’s like Barrichello in the Schumacher era.

          1. You don’t get it, if russell goes to merc he might do a leclerc, if the number 2 beats the number 1 he becomes number 1.

          2. There is nothing in how Mercedes have been in the last ten years, that gives rise to your laughable “Mercedes will never allow that”.

            They allowed it with Hamilton / Rosberg and the two who were reasonably close simply became open enemies (albeit in that nice modern diplomatic way)

            And remember Rosberg retired. Bottas was easily the best available at the time – so it’s just nonsense to say that Wolf wants an obvious 2nd driver.

            Whilst I have issues with Bottas’s challenge, he is failry good when we consider who he’s up against. That’s why he’s still there and been considered.

            However, I expect Russell to be announced before Spa and Wolf would give a flying fig if he does a ‘LeClerc’ on Hamilton.

      2. You’re alleged very average driver is better than Perez.

  2. I do not think that Mercedes and Redbull teammate comparisons are adequate anymore in 2021. It is quite clear that both teams have adopted the strategies helping Lewis and Max instead of Bottas and Sergio. For me, it would be more interesting to read about which driver have been driving better and which one have been better wingman among these four.

    1. True. For instance giving tow has an impact on the qualifying gaps. I have a feeling Mercedes has been more in favour of Hamilton in qualifying compared to previous years because of the pressure from Red Bull. Similarly, the other team needs to be taken into account in race strategies unlike last season where the Mercedes duo weren’t given that much of a challenge.

      1. How have they been “more in favour” towards Hamilton for qualifying? The drivers still take it in turns to decide whether they want to go out first or second for qualifying.

    2. True but for Perez it can’t be easy to perform in a new car against Verstappen. Like Kimi mentioned in his interview with RaceFans, give some days to do testing. It’s not only good for the drivers that started new in the team, but also for us. Look how Daniel is doing, that’s not good at all and no fun to see.

    3. For me, it would be more interesting to read about which driver have been driving better and which one have been better wingman among these four.

      This is a factor too and it’s been covered here before. Though of course a vital element here is to what extent each team expects those drivers to fulfil a ‘number two’ role:

      https://www.racefans.net/2021/06/27/the-potentially-crucial-differences-in-how-bottas-and-perez-help-their-team-mates/

      1. And I just think that it was always inevitable that SP was going to be Max’s second if by no other reason than he is the newbie to the team and was always going to start off on his hind foot. It was always in the cards for SP for this year to be Max’s wingman needing to and getting as much up to speed with the car and team as possible and as quickly as possible.

        Different for VB with all his experience on the team and every year the talk of a resurgent VB 2.0 taking off the gloves, which of course has never happened.

        But now VB risks them the WCC, so this season of all, with finally stiff season long competition, has shown VB to be too weak a link for Mercedes now. He’s had his chances, but now in have stepped RBR, and even Norris.

        1. Coventry Climax
          9th August 2021, 20:25

          Risks them them the WCC? He has just managed to get Lewis ahead again!

          1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            9th August 2021, 21:40

            @mgable

            Risks them them the WCC? He has just managed to get Lewis ahead again!

            Oh, please don’t get’em started! :-) 1.8 million, 23 feet, 51gs, 3 aspirins, 1 laxative…

  3. I was going to comment that the point haul is a metric going against the top of the grid as there is a bigger gap in points at the top, but playing with some numbers, it appears it is rather the opposite and biggest differente in % of point haul will appear for cars that can fight high in the points.

    Hamilton being 1st and Bottas 4th, will lead to Bottas scoring 48% of Hamilton.
    But Norris being 6th and Ricciardo 9th (same number of gap in places) mean Ric scoring 25% of Norris.

    That is in a tightly faught midfield where it more likely to have bigger gaps in places. To keep in mind for McLaren and Ferrari analysis in particular.

    Back on topic, it feels like Bottas time is over. Now that RedBull is closer, he can barely help the team into putting pressure and locking strategies options on Redbull by his position. He had a good and productive spell at Mercedes but surely it has now reached the end, especially given option available.

    1. @jeanrien In several races on conventional tracks, Hamilton and Verstappen have been way ahead of their teammates (to the point of being a full pit stop ahead.) If you accept the reality that neither Bottas nor Perez are really going to challenge Hamilton and Verstappen, then Bottas job is to help Mercedes by beating Perez. He’s currently ahead of Perez in the WDC despite having three DNFs to Perez one.

      1. Indeed, bottas is by far the better wingman. Better in important quali, better in points. And some nice extras that should not be named.

      2. @Steve:
        Exactly my thoughts! I wonder why a lot of people are calling on Mercs to replace Bottas because he can’t help them win the WCC? Really or it’s a front for something else?!
        Because the exact same argument applies at RBR but I don’t hear people asking RBR to replace Perez / sign up Russel…!

        1. I don’t get this narrative where people say that Merc default policy is some kind soporific No.2 driver.

          Merc want two drivers occupying 1 and 2. They aren’t interested in ‘wingmen’, unless that situation dictates.

          At the end of last season Toto had already committed to Bottas, even though Russell was probably the better bet. Now Wolf knows fully well that there is a chance, just a chance, that Russell would give Max something to think about – assuming the cars are equal

  4. Replace Bottas with Russel ASAP. This would make the team much more interesting to watch. Lewis is always performing but Bottas makes slow starts, can’t fight wheel on wheel, can’t defend and isn’t inspiring to watch or to hear after a race. The remark that Bottas is doing well regarding Lewis record breaking driving is maybe correct, but overall its just not enough to cheer for him and I hope Toto is reading my comment and after summer break Russel is in the car. I don’t mind mid season switching :)

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      9th August 2021, 9:42

      @ruben

      It’s not about how interesting the team is to watch though. And I also find it strange how many are against Bottas for his starts. He’s had a few bad, slow starts, but Russell is arguably the worst starter on the grid, and I would quite comfortably say nearly a 3rd of his launches have been poor, and have lost him at least one position. Even in his first season, against the poorly rated Kubica, Kubica finished lap 1 ahead of Russell 11/19 times they both started on the grid (and we know who ALWAYS qualified ahead). Then ever since Latifi has been with Williams, I’d still say he more often than not has better launches than Russell.

      All this aside, Russell does look good enough to be at Mercedes, but if slow starts is negative point for Bottas, it has to be very negative indeed for Russell.

      It is also hard to say that Lewis is always performing. I guess you could say his pace is almost always there, but the fact is, 2 awful races for Bottas would likely have resulted in Hamilton finishing behind on both occasions due to a mistake by Hamilton – which effectively was more costly than having shocking pace all race. Imola and Baku. It is highly likely that Hamilton will have finished behind Bottas in Imola when he made his mistake as he took ages to get back on track, then had to slowly do the rest of the lap with a damaged car. It was the red flag that allowed him to close right back up. He likely will have only just made it into the points without that.

      Hamilton realistically has also been poor by his standards this year, which in fact does make Bottas look worse still actually. What I find most amusing is that Hamilton or the team so often seem to mess up if Bottas does, or the other way round. This is despite the 2 drivers virtually never hindering each other, unlike when Rosberg was there.

      I myself really am not sure Russell – Hamilton will be a better driver pairing overall, including everything. Despite what Russell said for Latifi recently, I’m not sure he will be as forgiving as Bottas for team orders, and I can see it being closer to hamilton – Rosberg and Possibly some collisions happening. Then there is Russell’s starts which he still hasn’t got over. Bottas certainly is very good in qualifying, but I’m not sure Russell is quite as good as he’s made out to be. The average gap of the time difference is actually closer between Russell and Latifi than it is between Verstappen and Perez. If Russell is considered a top qualifier, then Latifi should be concidered a better qualifier than perez, which I don’t think is true at all. I personally think Bottas actually likely will have better 1 lap pace than Russell on average.
      Race pace, I expect he will be better than Bottas, but From recent evidence, I feel he will be involved in (or at fault for) more incidents than Botats is. Bottas may have taken out a load of cars just recently, but that is the only time in his entire career than he’s been responsible for anyone else’s retirement. He’s usually a safe and reliable driver.

      I’ll agree on Bottas’s poor defending. The strange thing is, he used to be a great defender. Maybe his confidence has gone. In his williams days and first 2 or 3 years at Mercedes, he was good at defending. There were plenty of races at williams in 2016 and 2015 for example where he could keep much faster ferrari’s behind him for multiple laps without breaking under pressure.

      I think Russell is getting hyped up in a similar way to Bottas was in 2014. Bottas turned out to be solid, but nothing like as good as people thought. I personally think similar will happen with Russell. I think Norris is looking more convincing than Russell. Not that that is anything to do with the driver swap.

      1. The only start Russell had in a Mercedes car saw him out pace Bottas to the first corner to take the lead. Bottas then wobbled about and nearly ended up fourth. He made the same poor start after a safety car period where a McLaren overtook him but, luckily for him, overcooked the next corner.

        Bottas is fast enough if he is racing himself, but in a tight fight he seems to fade. How on earth was he eighth and in position for Russell to try to overtake him leading to that famous crash.

        1. @Witan Getting overtaken by Mclaren was because he had the same very worn hard set as before the disastrous pit stop.

      2. You can’t compare Russell in a Williams to Bottas in the Merc and then compare starts.

        Bottas has been terrible at starting races – he must have underperformed in all but a few races during the last two seasons. And the problem is, unlike Russell, he never recovers

  5. How can you call Bottas vs Lewis a battle? It’s been clear from the first season that Bottas is a #2. Therefore there is no battle, only a comparison of stats.

    Aslong as Bottas qualifies close to Lewis, brings in points, takes out opponents, listens to teamorders and doesn’t fight Lewis on track, then Bottas is doing a phenomenal job for Mercedes.

    Reply moderated
  6. It’s not a matter of his performance it hasn’t been for a while, it’s about succession. Hamilton is likely on his last two or three years at Merc. Bottas is a good driver but not up to the same level as a Verstappen, Leclerc, Norris, Russell or Ricciardo and maybe Ocon.
    Next year all bets are off as far as Merc or RB having the best cars are concerned. Any one several teams could make a break though car that gives them the advantage. Merc need to make a move with Russell, he is ready for the step up and Merc need to look to beyond 2022.

    1. I tend to agree with @johnrkh regarding the issue of succession. Bottas has been a decent wingman. He’s very fast, and he’s a good qualifier, but his weakness is racing others. If he drops back, he tends to get stuck.

      Introducing George introduces an element of instability as he may well be challenging Lewis, but we all want to see that. It’s also the perfect time to bring him in seeing as the cars will be all new next year so there’ll be no catch-up like there would during a usual team swap. And George is already part of the Mercedes team/family so already has knowledge of how the team works. Lewis is excellent, maybe the greatest, but surely he won’t be in F1 for much longer as a driver, and George looks like a worthy successor.

      1. Hamilton’s 2021 season is everything but excellent so far, I’d liken him to 2006 schumacher so far, where he lost the title in a similar car due to a few avoidable mistakes, they’re both similar age too at this point.

      2. @Dan Rooke:
        I’m sorry but the Mercs are not in F1 to entertain and do what anyone wants to see! They are a business and want to win and if their current drivers are doing that, then how on earth do you expect them to introduce an element of instability, which at best will achieve the same thing (ie., winning championships) but at worse could destabilise the team in a 2022 season with completely new cars and therefore a stable and harmonious team is needed to drive development of the car?!

        1. Well, one of the current drivers is winning. Bottas hasn’t anything this year.

          1. @Dane:
            And? From the Mercs point of view, as long as they are winning, they couldn’t or shouldn’t care less which of their drivers is doing the winning. One is winning the WDC and the other does enough for them to also win the WCC with the added bonus of a stable and harmonious team…so for the Mercs, that’s a perfect scenario where they are winning both championships with very good team dynamics! So why on earth would they want destabilise that?! Remember, they are not there to entertain us; that’s F1/FOM’s job!
            And once again, the exact same thing can be said of RBR but for some reason, nobody is asking RBR to replace Perez / sign Russell…!

  7. @ruben Bottas has helped Mercedes win both championships the last four years, finishing P2 in the WDC the last two years. From Mercedes perspective, what more could a better driver have done?

    Mercedes is not in the business of providing entertainment. They are in the business of winning, which they have been doing for the last four years with Bottas.

    1. @scbriml

      Bottas has helped Mercedes win both championships the last four years, finishing P2 in the WDC the last two years. From Mercedes perspective, what more could a better driver have done?

      He could have finished in P2 in all 4 seasons. Honestly, with the kind of advantage Mercedes has had finishing P2 is not a massive challenge.

      Mercedes is not in the business of providing entertainment. They are in the business of winning, which they have been doing for the last four years with Bottas.

      Let’s see if they win the championship with Bottas this season. When you have a massive machinery advantage over your rivals, you don’t really need a strong number 2 to secure the championship… a strong #1 driver is enough. Mercedes has to adapt to new challenges and situations.. and that’s exactly why they need two #1 drivers in their squad for the future. Bottas won’t make the cut.

      1. Problem is bottas is sacrificed for Lewis on a lot of potential positive races for him.
        So his point scoring options are less.

      2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        9th August 2021, 16:13

        @todfod

        He could have finished in P2 in all 4 seasons. Honestly, with the kind of advantage Mercedes has had finishing P2 is not a massive challenge.

        Would that have been a good thing for Mercedes? Perhaps, Bottas’ issues are helping Mercedes. Total domination might have led to dramatic changes.

        1. @freelittlebirds

          Total domination might have led to dramatic changes

          *points at 2022*

      3. @Todfod:
        For this year, with Hamilton and Max neck-to-neck, their respective teammates will be crucial for the WCC and so far Bottas is beating Perez even with his 3 DNFs to Perez’s 1 DNF.
        So if you are fair, then you should first call RBR to change Perez before asking the Mercs to change Bottas, surely!

        1. @DonSalsa

          Russell is a contracted and loyal Mercedes driver. If RedBull could get him he would be diving for them already and Perez wouldn’t have got a sniff of that seat in the first place. The same applies to next year. GR is still holding out for the Merc seat. If he doesn’t get it next year he may start shopping about for a better drive and then….yes….we can all start calling for him to replace Perez.

  8. His performances alongside Hamilton are wholly respectable given his team mate’s record-breaking form

    Hamilton’s form in 2021 has hardly been record breaking.

    While there were great highs – 1. Bahrain, 2. Spain – it has been more than offset by the mistakes on part of the driver / teams. See list below.

    1. Imola (driver error, saved by red flag),
    2. Monaco (slow driver + team strategy mistake),
    3. Baku (driver error),
    4. Austria (driver error),
    5. Britain (racing incident, saved by red flag),
    6. Hungary (team strategy mistake),

    Now when you think 105 points vs 190 points by a not-so-record-breaking driver, Bottas looks much worse.

    Time to get Russell in.

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      9th August 2021, 9:52

      I mentioned this in my comment above. Bottas actually does look a bit worse than he has been when you account this in.

      That said, Bottas should have got at least 15 points in Monaco and another 2 or 4 in Imola. So he’s lost at least 20.
      Hamilton likely will only have got similar to Bottas in Imola without the red flag saving him, so lets say he gained 14 points there
      Hamilton effectively saved himself from retirement in Britain by the red flag resulting in the team saving his race. So despite the excellent recovery, as he was at fault for what would have been a retirement, we honestly can say he was lucky to get the 25 points there. To narrow things down a bit (due to a lot being his performance that allowed him to get these points), lets say he gained just 30 points by luck.

      So if we take away that Hamilton would be on 160 and Bottas would be on 135. And I would say that is with pretty even luck.

      Now I’ve said this, I think the points gap actually makes Hamilton look better than he is and actually does the opposite for Bottas.

      However, I’d still say both have had poor seasons. Both have certainly done much better in previous seasons.

      1. Lewis is a excellent driver,so please stop with the overated talk…Lewis has battled against 3 wdc teammates..and came out ontop most of the time..when Lewis was max age his teammate was Alonso…max teammate is Perez..who is making max look better than he is…you can easily argue Dan ric was the better redbull driver in 2018…he got more poles than max,won just as many races,,but unfortunately got 8 dnfs to Max’s 4.

        1. Where did you read the ‘overrated’ part?
          I thought it was a pretty good review of how luck probably impacted the points scoring.

        2. Ricciardo the better driver in 2018? Lol he got ouqualified and outpaced easily in 2017-2018 in h2h comparision, also even in the beggining of 2018 everytime he beat Max, he was behind before Max made a mistake like in Australia, or China, Azerbaija, RIic never had the pace to sniff Max.

    2. Honestly, Bottas has been better than Lewis only one weekend out of a total 11 weekends. That’s pretty poor for a guy who’s been racing Lewis for 4 seasons already. Bottas hit his peak at the start of his Mercedes stint and then he came back as Bottas 2.0 for a handful of races, but since then it’s just been downhill for him.

      I wouldn’t rate Lewis’ 2021 season as highly as I would rate Verstappen’s, Leclerc’s and Norris’. I wouldn’t rate Bottas’ in the top 10 performers this season either.. he’s probably at par with the Alfa Romeo drivers in terms of performance.

  9. Bottas is a better number 2 than Perez,that’s for sure.

    1. Marginally better than Perez this season..but this is Perez’s first season in the RB, and it’s Bottas’ 5th. Keeping that in mind Bottas is definitely the more useless of the two.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        9th August 2021, 20:20

        @todfod
        If we take into consideration the drivers first season with a new team, then Bottas showed it is possible to be significantly better better than Perez has been this year. Bottas’s first half of 2017 was on another level to Perez so far this year. And Bottas was just in his 5th season and it was his first time changing teams.

        At the stage Perez switched to Red Bull, he’d had literally twice as long in F1 as Bottas, plus he’d already had some experience of changing teams (twice) before this.

        The ways in which Perez is performing badly shouldn’t be related to it being his first season in the car. He seems to have changed his approach to being very impatient, careless and extremely prone to getting into trouble (the latest race not being his fault). But races like Imola, Britain and a few others were just down to silly errors.

        Bottas has been a fair bit worse than he used to be it seems, but despite this, performance wise, Perez has still clearly been worse.

        1. Absolutely, no first season excuse for perez cause bottas has been on it since his first season in merc, perez has been disappointing this season, was expecting him to give red bull an edge over merc in terms of number 2 drivers.

        2. @thegianthogweed

          Fair point. Bottas’ 2017 season was probably his strongest at Mercedes as well. It’s hard to say whether Perez is going to find consistency in form and perform stronger next year. I was giving Perez the benefit of the doubt considering how little pre season testing there was this season, but you’re right… if we just compare their first 11 races for their respective new team.. Bottas was more impressive.

          Either ways.. neither driver is nothing special. I don’t see Bottas at Mercedes in 2022 and I don’t see Perez at Red Bull in 2023.

        3. @thegianthogweed @todfod

          Bottas did enjoy more than double (I would guess, can’t be bothered to look it up) the amount of pre-season testing in 2017 than Perez has had this year though which would make a huge difference to the drivers preparations for the season start.

          OK, Just looked it up

          Pre-seasin testing mileage:
          2017 Bottas – 2,923.34km – Barcelona
          2021 Perez – 898.39km – Bahrain

          It is no wonder that all drivers who are new to their teams have struggled to get up to speed.

          1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
            11th August 2021, 9:19

            @asanator

            Your comment is a bit strange.

            “can’t be bothered to look it up”

            “OK, Just looked it up”

            Well, you can then!

            You also say it isn’t a surprise that new drivers have taken their time to get up to speed.

            Perez’s speed other than on Saturday has certainly been adequate. Being careless and desperate like he has been has nothing to do with pre-season testing, and that is an area Bottas did much better in in 2017. Perez tried so hard in Imola that he made himself go backwards instead, despite having the best car and Russell taking himself and Bottas out. And he finished out of the points.

            Then he had an awful sprint qualifying in Britain too, rejoining in such a dangerous manner that arguably should have got him a huge penalty, but it didn’t even get investigated. He will have got a couple of points in the race I think, but that was still another messy performance, and not really related to his lack of experience.

  10. Funny how Russell went overboard in trying to be a team player last race with radio calls like ‘sacrifice my race if it helps the team!’, and cheering wildly being beaten on points by his team mate.

    At least he’s understood what the famous Mercedes ‘values’ are about and what is expected of him, although I don’t think he is really fooling anybody.

    For sure Wolff would just like to keep Bottas for 2 more years, but will difficult to let Russell hanging even longer, especially when Marko has threatened to take Russell if he doesn’t.

    Now there’s rumours Wolff has been meeting his old buddy Vasseur a lot lately, so maybe Alfa Romeo is where manager Wolff wants to make sure his ‘protegee’ ends up, instead of Red Bull picking him up.

    1. I meant Wolff wants Bottas to go to Alfa Romeo..

    2. @balue

      If you ask me, I’d say 2021 is a sign of building complacency from Toto.

      Mercedes were so used to enjoying a machinery advantage over the past 7 seasons, that they got complacent with putting the best drivers available in the 2 seats available. Toto has nightmares about the Rosberg-Hamilton era, and he decided to bring in a less capable but more compliant driver in that 2nd seat.

      This works if you have a dominant car… but once you don’t hold an advantage over your closest rival, your going to pay for it in results. It’s better to have two drivers who can get you a win on any given Sunday as compared to one. It’s better to deal with the headache of managing two WDC worthy drivers rather than losing out on championships.

      Hard to say Mercedes has made many mistakes in the past 7 seasons.. but retaining Bottas is probably going to cost them this year’s championship.

      1. @todfod I think that TW never had nightmares about the LH/NR pairing, and he had re-signed Nico through 2018 well before Nico decided to retire. I don’t think he ‘decided’ to take on a more compliant driver rather than he had to scramble for VB between the 2016 and 2017 seasons, but of course it is a fact that he didn’t replace VB once he was no longer in a scramble-for-a-driver situation. But as you say, when the car is dominant…

        I think the situation and reminder for TW now (I doubt he needs it) is exactly as you have worded it. “It’s better to have two drivers who can get you a win on any given Sunday as compared to one. It’s better to deal with the headache of managing two WDC worthy drivers rather than losing out on championships.”

      2. @todfod That’s presuming they put the WCC anywhere near WDC and by the looks of it they don’t. Bottas will more than not give Mercedes a strategic advantage with 2 cars up front, but never really enough to bother Hamilton’s points, so is really perfect in that sense.

        Russell on the other hand, would likely start to take more of Hamilton’s points and that’s the last thing they want. But like I said, maybe they’re forced to take him now that he is surely not interested in 2 more years in uncompetitive cars, and the risk of losing him to Red Bull is high.

  11. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    9th August 2021, 12:36

    This is very similar to the Ronaldo/Benzema situation. When you’re playing with someone who scores 50 goals a seasons 6-7 times in a row and would have won 8 Ballon D’Ors were it not for Messi, it’s going to have an effect on you.

    Same with Bottas. His teammate has double centuries in wins and poles, 7 WDCs and made other teammates like Alonso, Button, and Rosberg have fits. Incidentally Rosberg was the most unlucky driver having to race against teammates who have 14+ WDCs amongst them.

    Is Benzema a bad player? Real Madrid kept him and he is now playing great soccer. The same goes for Bottas. He’s not going to be able to bring out his A game while Hamilton is there except in a few races but he’s performing well enough that Mercedes are a better team with him.

    1. Football analogy.. That wil. Do it :)

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        9th August 2021, 14:51

        Yeah, I think performing at a high competitive level is almost the same across sports. You’re on the same team but you’re also competing against each other.

        That doesn’t mean Bottas is not a top driver any less than Benzema is not a top soccer player (ironically soccer is the correct English word for what is now called football in England…).

    2. That is a really good analogy, I suppose the argument is Real Madrid didn’t bring in another player at the same quality as Ronaldo (or close to), which gives the next tier of players the chance to look world class.
      Like you say, if Mercedes replaced Hamilton with an average/poor driver (depending on how you rate Bottas), Bottas would start picking up more points, as he’s constantly finishing a place higher (as the other Mercedes is now behind), which on a good day is up to 7 points more – very quickly the standings look very different.
      Mercedes would be unlikely to not have one superstar in their team which makes this scenario more unlikely. Personally, I’d like to see Bottas go somewhere else next year, I think he’d well against a lot of the field and increase his reputation a bit

  12. Ham has become very lazy and his race skills stagnated in the Merc rocketship, you only have to see how he struggled passing Alonso as proof and how he knocked Max out, along with many other errors now he has actual competition.
    Also his comments made about Alonsos driving told the tale of a driver no longer willing to go all out.

    He needs a real challenge and that will only come from a new teammate like Russell, Bottas simply can’t give him one.

  13. I had a hunch at the beginning of the year that, with a more competitive Red Bull, the gap between Hamilton and Bottas would widen, and that Hamilton and the team would make more mistakes in pushing harder. Granted it’s only relatively recently we knew about Hamilton’s lack of fitness from his illness may be a factor, Lewis has not been perfect this season. But on Bottas side of the camp, he struggles to make any kind of meaningful progress up the grid in the race, I don’t remember him being the focus of any overtaking highlight reels. The fact that Ocon (another ‘Mercedes’ driver) has led more laps than him, he hasn’t had a race win this season, and he’s racking up a big damage repair bill from being out of position from his own mistakes, I don’t think a strong second half of the year will save him. The query is whether Mercedes will risk replacing him before the end of the season; I doubt they will, but other more ruthless team principals probably would.

  14. As mentioned in the other comments, Hamilton has not been in his best form (in terms of result and statistics), yet Bottas is still thoroughly defeated. Granted, Bottas has three retirements to Hamilton’s none, but only Monaco was a “certain” podium; in Imola Bottas was almost lapped and in Hungary, well, the shunt happened on lap 1 so it is useless to speculate how many points were possibly lost.

    I think I mentioned last year that Bottas has to raise his game and consistency to be always near Hamilton (and on a lucky day ahead), but he has definitely failed to do so with this year’s Mercedes. Can’t see the rest of the season going much differently than the first half: Bottas may score some lucky results, but at his current “best” and under normal circumstances, he can only finish third.

    1. In my opinion, bottas wouldn’t have got a lot of points even without the crash, he started horribly, which is typical of him in the wet, and as we know he’s then not good at recovering places when the track dries up.

  15. How could they dump Valtteri after his Hungarian pinball gifted Lewis the championship lead?

    I just don’t see it happening this year. Mercedes have no interest in breeding new talent, they have Lewis on a 2 year contract and Valtteri is more or less what they need – he doesn’t challenge Lewis, gets in Max’s way some of the time, and usually beats Perez.

    Show Valtteri the door and he will be far less compliant. He has been the perfect team player in the last few races (the Hamilton definition of team, obviously).

  16. More than anything, I think it will be best for Bottas himself if he went elsewhere. He looks totally destroyed. There was a time when he was getting closer to Lewis, but since then, he has just been on a downward trend.

    Bottas’ biggest issue is that he actually believes he can beat Lewis over a season, which he cannot. He should just focus on his own performance and try to get the best result each weekend. He looks really consumed by the fact that he isn’t winning.

    I think Alfa will be a good fit for him.

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