How did Bottas stack up against Hamilton, and why are Mercedes replacing him?

2021 F1 season

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Valtteri Bottas wasn’t supposed to become Lewis Hamilton’s team mate at Mercedes in 2017.

Nico Rosberg signed a two-year extension on his contract in 2016, which would have kept him alongside Hamilton until the end of 2018. But then he won the championship and decided he’d had enough.

So Bottas, who was supposed to spend 2017 alongside rookie Lance Stroll, instead joined Hamilton and the reigning world champions.

Five years on, Bottas’ stint at Mercedes is coming to an end, as has been on the cards for some time. Whether or not he was ready for the opportunity when it came, he got it, and then it got away from him. Where did it go wrong?

The initial signs were encouraging for Bottas. He acquitted himself well in 2017 when Mercedes, who crushed their rivals over the previous three seasons, suddenly found the competition much tougher.

Bottas won his fourth start as a Mercedes driver
At the fourth round of the season in Sochi, the flying Ferraris swept the front row. But Bottas took advantage of their slipstream at the start, swept past Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, and duly chalked up his first win.

Had he kept up that one-in-four of strike rate he’d have 23 wins by now instead of nine. Hamilton took nine wins in 2017 alone, and has tallied 46 during his time as team mate to Bottas.

Those stark numbers illustrate how Bottas ultimately failed to measure up against the reigning champion. On the face of it some might ask why Mercedes has taken so long to make a change. They didn’t lack alternatives: Daniel Ricciardo could have arrived from Red Bull in 2019 and junior driver Esteban Ocon has been waiting in the wings for years.

But it would do Bottas a disservice to argue this is what Mercedes should have done. His performances have been better than the raw wins count indicates. He’s contributed a respectable 41% of Mercedes’ points as team mate to Hamilton. Compare that to Max Verstappen’s recent team mates, for example.

Wolff was fulsome in his praise of Bottas after his departure was announced, saying it “hasn’t been an easy process or a straightforward decision” and that “he would absolutely have deserved to stay with the team” had they kept him.

Although Hamilton has tended to qualify ahead, it’s not as if Bottas has been consistently far from his pace. He’s come out ahead slightly less than a third of the time, and when he hasn’t he’s often been within a tenth of a second of Hamilton. That is nothing to be sniffed at considering Bottas is up against a driver who has officially chalked up 101 pole positions.

There is no single area which Bottas or Mercedes can an identify as the sole cause of his deficit to Hamilton. On average he’s slightly slower in qualifying and slightly further away again in the races.

But what’s done for him is the trend has gone in the wrong direction over the five seasons. The peaks have become rarer, the dips slightly more frequent.

In 2020 Bottas often led but seldom won
That was starkly illustrated last year, where the threat to Mercedes from their competition receded, yet Bottas was nowhere in the title fight with his team mate. In 17 races, Bottas only led Hamilton home four times, and on each of those occasions Hamilton could point to some external factor such as a penalty which had compromised his afternoon.

Once the title fight was over, Bottas faced an unexpected new threat when George Russell was drafted in as a short-notice replacement for an unwell Hamilton at the Sakhir Grand Prix. This was a clear indication Mercedes were weighing their options for the future, though Toto Wolff made it plain from the outset there would be no change to their intended line-up for 2021.

The weekend reflected badly on Bottas. Russell came startlingly close to out-qualifying him, then passed him at the start and seemed on his way to victory when misfortune intervened for both. Capping Bottas’ misery, Russell swept past him on fresher tyres late in the race.

While Mercedes denied that race tipped the scales in Russell’s favour, it clearly prompted discussions relating to how Bottas might improve his performance, for from the very next race Wolff took the rare step of appearing on the radio to offer him words of encouragement. It didn’t have the desired effect, as Bottas was beaten to pole position and victory by Verstappen while a still unwell Hamilton followed them home.

Bottas has nine races left as Hamilton’s team mate
The encouragements from Wolff continued into 2021 but have often served as unfortunate footnotes to Bottas’ least notable performances. It increasingly seemed the writing was on the wall regarding Bottas’ future, and his competitiveness has taken a further hit, with notable lows at Imola and Baku. However we must allow for the fact that he’s had to play the ‘number two’ role far more than previously as Hamilton has faced his stiffest title fight to date.

Whatever frustration Bottas may have felt about that situation he largely kept under his hat until yesterday, when he gave the team a scare by coming close to taking the bonus point for fastest lap away from Hamilton when he had been specifically told not to.

But as today’s announcement demonstrates, Bottas already knew by then his days at the team are numbered. That news can only have come as a painful blow to him: No driver arrives in Formula 1 with a goal any lower than becoming world champion, and Bottas is trading a place at the top team for one which lies ninth in the championship.

Nonetheless, he has spent half a decade in a seat he was never meant to take in the first place alongside the most successful driver F1 has ever seen, and that is no mean feat.

Bottas versus Hamilton at Mercedes

Data up to and including the 2021 Dutch Grand Prix:

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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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68 comments on “How did Bottas stack up against Hamilton, and why are Mercedes replacing him?”

  1. He gave Hamilton more of a fight than any of the Red Bull drivers since mid 2018 have done to Verstappen. I’d say he did rather well. Let’s not pretend Hamilton isn’t one of the all-time greatest ever drivers and that Hamilton hasn’t had that team tailored to his absolute desire. Bottas winning poles and races is a job well done.

    1. @hahostolze

      He gave Hamilton more of a fight than any of the Red Bull drivers since mid 2018 have done to Verstappen.

      The difference is that RBR kept changing its second driver looking for one who could perform close to Max.

      Let’s not pretend Hamilton isn’t one of the all-time greatest ever drivers

      We will find out next year with Russell, you have just to visit this same forum at the end of 2013 where the narrative was that Sebastian Vettel is one of the old times great and was hyped by the same media that are hyping Hamilton now.

      1. @tifoso1989 both Vettel and Hamilton ARE all-time greats. So that makes sense.

        1. +1, all one needs to do is check the numbers out

      2. Have you forgotten how Hamilton did against Alonso when he was defending champion? Hamilton has proved time and again he is an all-time great and if you can’t see it, the problem is your’s.

      3. So performing consistently well (with a few hiccups of course) for 15 consecutive seasons wouldn’t be enough to justify calling Hamilton an all time great? He’d also have to beat an up-and-coming superstar at the age of 37 or the previous ~300 grand prix would be null and void?

        If you applied criteria that stringent to other F1 drivers, you would have to conclude that there have never been ANY all time greats in Formula 1. And that’s patently absurd.

      4. @tifoso1989
        The difference is that RBR kept changing its second driver looking for one who could perform close to Max.

        Translation: Red Bull are looking for anyone who can drive that car :-) Apparently, no one can.

        We will find out next year with Russell, you have just to visit this same forum at the end of 2013 where the narrative was that Sebastian Vettel is one of the old times great and was hyped by the same media that are hyping Hamilton now.

        Regardless of how Hamilton does against Russell, it won’t change his status. Is Valentino Rossi less of a legend because he was beaten by his teammates and Marc Marquez in the latter stages of his career? If Marc Marquez doesn’t bounce back to his old self, will people not consider him a legend? The things Lewis has done defy logic on track and I think that’s what his team thinks who built the car. We’re just viewing it from the outside and are picking up our jaws from the floor nearly every weekend. I still think Lewis’ drives are going to be electric and his wheel-to-wheel will always belong in a different category or let’s hope it does just like the Doctor’s overtakes were in a class of their own. I think we’re in for a treat, especially if the new regs improve racing.

        Russell may be the next Marquez. We’ll have to wait and see.

        1. Proper block-quoting…
          @tifoso1989

          The difference is that RBR kept changing its second driver looking for one who could perform close to Max.

          Translation: Red Bull are looking for anyone who can drive that car :-) Apparently, no one can.

          We will find out next year with Russell, you have just to visit this same forum at the end of 2013 where the narrative was that Sebastian Vettel is one of the old times great and was hyped by the same media that are hyping Hamilton now.

          Regardless of how Hamilton does against Russell, it won’t change his status. Is Valentino Rossi less of a legend because he was beaten by his teammates and Marc Marquez in the latter stages of his career? If Marc Marquez doesn’t bounce back to his old self, will people not consider him a legend? The things Lewis has done defy logic on track and I think that’s what his team thinks who built the car. We’re just viewing it from the outside and are picking up our jaws from the floor nearly every weekend. I still think Lewis’ drives are going to be electric and his wheel-to-wheel will always belong in a different category or let’s hope it does just like the Doctor’s overtakes were in a class of their own. I think we’re in for a treat, especially if the new regs improve racing.

          Russell may be the next Marquez. We’ll have to wait and see.

    2. People are just thirsty to see Russell smoke Hamilton. I wish him well but so far he has only raced against a post injury Kubica and a pay driver. Not really the same as racing against Alonso, Button, Rosberg. It’s crazy how much hype he has.

  2. And do not forget. Bottas was not allowed to take points away from Lewis. So adding another win is unlikely.
    The ” valteri this is james ” message is programmed in the system by now.
    Let’s see how they manage the replacement.

    1. “Russell, this is James, let Hamilton past”

      1. that was easy, hahaha

    2. Bottas was allowed to win until he was out of the hunt. The idea that bottas was Hamilton’s Irvine or Barichello is ahistorical.

  3. We need Albon to go to Alfa Romeo to measure Lewis vs Max.

    1. @ruliemaulana How would that concern them? I don’t quite get this.
      My preferences for the 2nd Alfa are Gio and Shwartzman.

      1. @jerejj by comparing their respective teammates in equal machinery you could draw some conclusions, but it’s hardly scientific.

        1. @eljueta OK, I get now. Former teammates as teammates.

    2. Except it turns out that good drivers are bad in the second RBR.

  4. I never thought much of him at Williams and nothing he’s done at Mercedes has changed my opinion. But he’s more or less done what Mercedes needed him to do, which is to keep out of Hamilton’s way and secure just enough points for the constructors.

    Fast drivers in the #2 car just cause problems. So it will be interesting to see how Mercedes make use of Russell next year.

    1. I think the way they’ll sell it to Russell will be that he’ll be number 2 to Lewis until Lewis retires and at that point he’ll become number 1. It would make sense to me as I can’t see Toto wanting a repeat of the Hamilton / Rosberg years.

      1. It’ll be difficult to do that if Russell turns out faster.

        Reply moderated
      2. If Russel is quicker he’ll not be nr 2

  5. When we stack up this crop of drivers Bottas will have had 9 wins and 17 poles against the statistically best driver in F1. And probably banked $60-70 million in the process. Not a bad return for someone who was parachuted in at the last minute to replace someone who got out before before the sport broke him.

    1. Exactly. Let’s stop throwing shade at Bottas. He spent 5 years at the best team in F1, along side the most successful driver in F1. He was paid handsomely for it.

      I wonder how many commenters hold themselves to such high standards.

  6. Answer to the article: Russell

    If he wasn’t showing as much as he is (great performance at Sakhir last year, followed by consistent speed) then Merc would be keeping Bottas imo.

    Merc would be kicking themselves if the let a young driver who has shown promise be snapped up by someone else

  7. Nonetheless, he has spent half a decade in a seat he was never meant to take in the first place alongside the most successful driver F1 has ever seen, and that is no mean feat.

    This feat tell more about the immobilism at Mercedes trying to please Hamilton than a big achievement of Bottas. It’s clear since mid-2019 that he was entering a downward spiral of performance. Not because of his speed and amazing racecraft that he was kept by the team any longer than that, au contraire. They stacked up with a driver who couldn’t trouble their chosen one until it became unsustainable. While he was delivering a decent amount of points, unlike Verstappen’s teammates, it had a better ground of justification. Now the picture changed significantly.

    Reply moderated
  8. Amazed the graphs don’t show more in favor of Hamilton given the endless times Bottas was ordered to move over, sacrifice his race in benefit of Lewis and the imbalance of bad luck that fell on Bottas.

    To that extend Bottas was the best support driver Lewis ever had and likely the only reason Bottas was allowed to stay for 5 years because his talent/capabilities didn’t rightfully earned him that seat.

    I really hope Russell gets a fair chance and isn’t sacrificed in any shape or form, maybe only at end of season if Russell has no chance for championship but I expect then Russell offers his help instead of needing to be told.
    Would be fun to see Russell ahead after the summer break and Lewis getting the message “Lewis this is Toto, abort that flying lap”.

    1. “Amazed the graphs don’t show more in favor of Hamilton given the endless times Bottas was ordered to move over”

      Strange, you’re amazed the facts don’t correlate with the fake image you try to portray? lol, i’m not.

      We can count on one hand the supposed ‘endless’ times Bottas was ordered to move over out of 5 full seasons, and they were because he wasn’t in contention for the title, or on a different strategy. At no point was Bottas ever told to move out of Hamiltons way earlier in the season when the title was wide open.

      1. We can count on one hand the supposed ‘endless’ times Bottas was ordered to move over out of 5 full seasons, and they were because he wasn’t in contention for the title, or on a different strategy. At no point was Bottas ever told to move out of Hamiltons way earlier in the season when the title was wide open.

        Really now? You must have drowned out your memory of Spain this year already ( Race # 4 in 2021 )

        Bottas defiant on team order: ‘Not here to let people by’

        “On lap 53, Bottas was told over the team radio to let Hamilton pass him seamlessly for second place as the seven-time World Champion chased down race leader Max Verstappen.”

        Reply moderated
      2. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
        6th September 2021, 16:26

        But what about the times he was kept out long just to try and interfere with opponents, or was given an inferior strategy while Lewis went around chalking up the wins

        1. Again, that never happened when the season was open, if Bottas’ race was compromised to help Hamilton, it was when he was already too far back in the championship to warrant Mercedes giving him their focus. At some point, especially in the seasons 17/18 when Ferrari where a threat, you just have to put your eggs in one basket. Ferrari did the same with Raikkonen during those years, where is all the complaints for that? The same with Verstappen and Redbull. Perez has only been in the Redbull half a season and we’ve already seen him left out on some bizarre strategies in the hope of interfering with Merc, because Verstappen has outperformed him and therefore warrants the attention from the team. Again, can’t see any complaints from any commenters on here about that.

          1. True. But there’s a section of commenters here (hard to call them F1 fans) who live in some strange fantasy world where Lewis is a talentless driver whose achievements have only been possible by hobbling his teammates. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to drag them out of that make-believe place.

      3. Like the teams don’t use coded messages over heavily monitored airwaves. Get a grip.

  9. George Russell’s job in the first year will be to support Hamilton in winning his 8th title…..if he hasn’t already won it in 2021. Once he has that 8th title, Hamilton will go and become the new Lauda hanging around the pits and being a DJ activist or something. So while Hamilton is there, Russell will just be a loyal wing man – once Hamilton goes the whole Merc focus will be on Russell supported by another handy-but-nothing-spectacular driver – like Rosberg was meant to be but ruined things. My prediction is…….er, its hard to think of anyone at the moment who isn’t contracted to Renault or Ferrari. Maybe Bottas will come back!

    As for what Red Bull will do – nobody knows, least of all them. Who can thrive when an evil monocular presence is looming over them, at least Mercedes are supportive of their drivers and loyal to them.

    1. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
      6th September 2021, 16:27

      evil monocular presence

      Lmao

      1. evil monocular presence and Christian Horner’s immense ego. I could not imagine working with either of them

    2. Russell will prove too fast and edge Hamilton to the title followed by the wild roar of the crowd. Hamilton will retire and gain 30 kg. Mercedes will bring back Bottas, who will proceed to beat Russell and win the title. It turned out the new car that year just didn’t suit Hamilton at all for some reason (see: Ricciardo). Mercedes will bring back a fat Mansell-style Hamilton who will prove to be no match for Bottas. Bottas will be hit by fame and claim Mercedes always had him contracted as a #2 in a vastly inferior car, but now he has finally shown everyone what he always knew – that he is the GOAT.

      Reply moderated
  10. The problem with him in the Mercedes was that he reached maximum potential at the start of his tenure there compared to Hamilton and never really progressed from there. There were about 3-4 outstanding performances per season in the first three years, which went missing in these last two years. He managed to bring the minimum results expected, and to be fair he had a lot of small hindering misfortunes (and maybe one big one in Azerbaijan 2018), but especially with the annual talk of a renewd Bottas coming for the new season but never really delivering, he’s been altogether a bit underwhelming top team driver (and I’m saying that as someone who hoped in the early years that he could put up a Rosberg-level fight).

    1. @hunocsi I think it was unfair for anyone to join Lewis at that point. I think anyone joining needed to just focus on their things and push aside any notions of winning the WDC as that was going to happen or not happen and there’s nothing he could have done to accomplish that without accomplishing smaller short-term and mid-term goals. Focus on each race, focus on your thing, and just do the best you can. Set realistic goals and go about getting there. He would have benefitted greatly from a good coach who could have brought him from 80% of points to 90% or closer in the 2nd or 3rd seasons. The gap would have been smaller at that point and once you’re within range, the other person starts to score less too. Obviously the team was behind Lewis and was always going to be behind him since he’d given them so many championships. You need your own support group to help you get where you need to go. Lewis had a coach of sorts at Mercedes in Niki Lauda and still does in Angela. I think Hakkinen would have been a great choice of a coach for Valtteri. Here’s a guy who did fight against the other driver who completely dominated F1, Schumacher, who has that experience, who knows what it takes.

    2. @hunocsi this is exactly what I think about Bottas. There were one or two occasions, early season in previous years when I really thought he might be able to seriously challenge Lewis. But he’s been disappointing in 2020 and this year. I think he flattered to deceive when Lewis was not at his best.

  11. @tifoso1989 – I’m far from being a Hamilton fan but even if you ignore some of the stats (which to me, are fairly meaningless considering the pace of the car), you can still clearly see that he’s an incredibly fast driver who has operated at an extremely high level for his whole F1 career. With Vettel, you can argue he had a car that suited him and when things changed, his performance dipped but Hamilton’s performance has rarely been affected by regulation changes.

    Ultimately, you won’t find a driver on the grid (past or present) who would argue against Hamilton being called an all-time great of F1.

    1. Meant as a reply to the post at the top….

    2. @petebaldwin
      Totally respectable opinion. I consider Hamilton as an exceptionally talented driver though for me Alonso is the most versatile and complete driver of the post Schumacher generation. Why I’ve made the analogy with Vettel is that at the time of his 4th title the same people that are hyping Hamilton for the GOAT status in the sport are the ones that were hyping Vettel and comparing him to Senna, Fangio… and then we discovered that Vettel is not as good as his statistic might suggest.

      BTW, Hamilton in those years wasn’t even in the discussion of weather he was the GOAT or not. It was all about Vettel. Hamilton hasn’t been able to finish higher than 4th for 5 consecutive seasons when he didn’t have the fastest car. He did have a bad car in the first part of the 2009 season but that’s it.

      I can’t consider Hamilton as an all time great when he doesn’t have in his CV drives like Barcelona 1996, Donington1993, Malaysia 2012… People will still point to Silverstone 2008 which is a great drive but in that race Raikkonen was as fast as Hamilton in his first stint before Ferrari screwing his race and the MP4-23 was a title contender car. He may prove me wrong in the future, never say never.

      1. @tifoso1989 It is almost impossible to answer or at least get it right. Some drivers have that talent that they can drive a car which isn’t the fastest in a particular series and take a win or two with it. Some can’t never shine in a middfield car. Ricciardo this season, Hamilton in Mclaren, Hill in Arrows, Villeneuve in BAR, Raikkonen in Ferrari 2014- etc. Yes there are some races which they drove extremely well but all in all their seasons were below average. Still it is a different situation driving a winning car well than driving a middfield car. Gasly has been outstanding in Alpha Tauri but his stint in Red Bull looked like a totally different driver. All in all F1 is a team sport. Wherever you drive you need the right people around you. Lewis may not be the GOAT but Mercedes has to be THE GOAT team by some margin. After that comes Ferrari 99-04, then Mclaren of Senna/Prost. Chapmans Lotus has to be there too as well as 90s Williams and 50s Alfa Romeo.
        Drivers are the ones who get the brightest spotlight and it is rightful. Still there are those who build their teams and gets everything going. Probably without Lewis Mercedes wouldn’t have become the team they are now so he was the right puzzle piece for that. Schumacher did something similar with Ferrari and who was behind with these two moves. Niki Lauda. I’m not saying Lauda is the GOAT but he gave both Schumacher and Hamilton a chance to become legends.
        For me it is impossible to say who is the best driver but it is much more important what you have left behind and done away from the race track. Senna did a lot for Brazil, Prost gave a seat for Alesi, Trulli and Heidfeld.
        But still doing stuff away from the circus doesn’t make a driver faster and it is a different thing speaking about who is fastest than who is the GOAT. They both deserve a huge respect but driving is just one part of the show.

        1. GOAT vs GDOAT = Greatest driver of all time.

        2. @qeki
          +1 COTD for me. I have to agree with all of what you have said and I have a lot of respect for you and the rest of the folks here for being able to have a constructive debate without the usual fanaticism.

        3. I think there’s some truth in this but it is still a gross oversimplification. The match of a car’s strengths and weaknesses to a driver’s style is an important factor.

      2. @Tifoso1989

        The same Alonso that was matched by a rookie Hamilton? That same one, right?

  12. It’s quite obvious why Bottas is leaving Mercedes, George Russell.
    George has the potential ability to be a replacement for Lewis in the future, something Bottas has not shown even if he is a very good No.2.

    1. he is a very good No.2.

      The competition is not good enough, so that’s way too easy for him.
      Only RBR is not miles behind Merc and their 2nd drivers have been very poor
      With a solid good driver along Max consistently scoring podiums and the ocasional win, RBR would be easily winning the WCCs and Valtteri Bottas would not be good enough for Merc.
      Even Lando with a seriously inferior car has been shadowing VB.
      The problem is, VB is absolutely not a racer. Ocasionally he can be pretty fast when driving alone. But I can’t for the life of me remember him doing a decent overtake.

  13. I already forgot that Ocon was or is a mercedes juinor driver. Imagine if it was Ocon who will get that seat. No in all seriousness it will go to Russell but nothing is confirmed until the news are released and even after that nothing is 100% sure. A lot of strange things have happen in the history of F1.

  14. I would not be surprised if Lewis did a ‘Rosberg’ at the end of the season. By now he will have seen that Max has his measure and there is the serous risk that Russel will out perform him in the same car next year. So he might very well opt to go out instead of being beaten not by one but two drivers next year.

  15. How did Bottas stack against Hamilton? As any mediocre driver would. As fast and likeable Bottas is, he has outperformed Hamilton in less races than Heikki Kovalainen did. Remember the great Heikki Kovalainen? No? Can’t say I blame you.

    Reply moderated
  16. Rob (@realnigelmansell)
    6th September 2021, 16:40

    Wouldn’t make a huge difference but would interesting to see these numbers if you factored out team orders. Regardless Mercedes have made the right call

    1. Without team orders Bottas would do a little better but still he got team ordered everywhere for a reason he was usually way too far back to actually fight Hamilton.

      We saw it last race as well when he got team orders he was 10 or so seconds behind, and he’s 100 points away from Hamliton so no chance for him.

      He should have been far more agressive that he was since he started his Mercedes days, like Rosberg did and take the fight to Hamilton no matter the WCC, but he always had a 1 year contract only so he would have been instantly dropped I guess.

      1. Yeah he was 10 seconds behind even with one less pitstop. When bottas was sacrificed for lewis it was always when he was going to lose anyway. Only once it was clear that he has to move over for lewis that is 2018 russia.

  17. Ideally, no driver should be kept like Bottas was kept more than three seasons. If you lose against a team mate for three seasons, you’re out. But the sport does not work that way.

    Reply moderated
  18. Valtteri Bottas is, and always has been, good enough as a Mercedes number two driver. He is certainly better in that role than Daniel Ricciardo, Esteban Ocon, or almost any other driver on the grid. The trouble is, Mercedes no longer need a number two driver, they now need a future number one driver, and George Russell is that man. When Leclerc replaced Raikkonen at Ferrari in 2019, it was said by many that it said more about Vettel than Raikkonen, as Leclerc had been signed to replace Vettel as the number one. I believe the same is true with Russell, although the difference is that Vettel’s position was under threat because it seemed that he was not good enough to be Ferrari’s number one, whereas Hamilton’s is under threat because he will likely choose to retire in the next few years.

    1. @f1frog

      Exactly. As long as Hamilton is driving well Bottas was the best man for the 2nd seat. But Hamilton’s time is coming and someone exceptionally talented is needed to replace him. Russell looks like a great choice.

  19. Good article. Would have helped if we had seen year-wise or race-wise trend of qualifying times, finishing positions / etc.

    Ricciardo and Ocon. Hmm, good potential replacements. Ricciardo’s problem was his timing. He was itching to leave and finalized the deal with Renault too soon (summer break). Had he not committed to Renault so early and still be available in 2nd half of 2018 – the time when Vettel’s performance nose-dived and the pressure on Mercedes reduced – I believe, Mercedes would have been happy to hire him as an equal # 1 to Lewis. That would have been a great battle to witness.

    Ocon was available at multiple points. But I think he would have been a downgrade on Bottas – at least the 2017-2020 Bottas. Ocon didn’t dominate Perez till 2018 which resulted him not getting the 2019 seat. Him being out of a racing for one full year mad him miss out on a 2020 seat. His performance against Ricciardo in 2020 also didn’t put him in good light either.

  20. I think the article hits on what has surprised me most about Bottas – the trend. Not sure if anyone expected him to genuinely get on a par with Hamilton (one’s a great, one isn’t… realistically he was never going to do that), but he’s getting further away as the years go by, not closer.

    And Hamilton’s 36. I don’t think anyone can say for sure whether his raw pace has already fallen away from its peak, but he won’t be getting better and better at an age when biology starts to catch up with even the greatest drivers. So I’m left with the conclusion that Bottas has indeed got worse and worse. Can’t really escape that.

    I think he definitely has a future, though, because if I had to guess at a reason for his decline I’d go with mental – the realisation that hits all #2s to greats. No matter what you do, you go into every single weekend knowing the guy in the other car is capable of doing it better, and that has to be soul-destroying. Maybe when he’s up against a ‘normal’ opponent, he’ll be back to his best.

  21. You know Keith wrote the article when there are 30 backlinks to RF strewn about. SEO overload

  22. He signed as a number 2. Got treated like a number 2. Got rich doing it but trashed his reputation in the process.

  23. It is easy. You are in this seat until we find a better one.

  24. If things weren’t so close with redbull one might have expected a win for Botas as a fitting send off.

  25. Shown the door ? Or tired to be treated like a doormat ?
    That’s not really motivating, you know ?

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