The official confirmation of Valtteri Bottas as the new driver of the Mercedes, closed a chapter of speculation that had lasted more than a month, but the details of the agreement reached with the pilot have opened another one that promises to last throughout the season. Although Mercedes has not manifested officially on the duration of the contract the Finnish driver, numerous media and various stakeholders suggest that Bottas would have only signed for one season with the team of Brackley, with an option to extend it on the basis of their performance.
With this agreement, Mercedes has left open all options of face-to-2018. At the end of this year, riders like Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) and Fernando Alonso (McLaren) terminate contract with their respective teams, and young promises like Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso), Pascal Wehrlein (Sauber) and Esteban Ocon (Force India) could also be in consideration for some of these seats, and even for the Mercedes.
The head of Mercedes, Toto Wolff, has not dodged this issue when asked about it in Formulacast, a podcast presented by the reputed commentator in the Finnish Oskari Saari. Wolff asserts that the confident Mercedes on the capabilities of Bottas has been the key to his signing, and that is expected to continue for more years, but that, given the situation, the team wants to have all the options at your fingertips within 12 months:
“we would Not have chosen to Valtteri if we don’t think that is good enough to continue in the team. On the other hand, the market now is very dynamic. There are options open for next year: young drivers, Sebastian, Fernando, Valtteri… many of them. It must be understood, and Valtteri what does. Also, we have a great faith and trust in you can stay with us a long time, but now we have to see how it progresses the season.”
In statements to Gazzetta dello Sport, Wolff has also confirmed that Mercedes contributed to the operation and the return of Felipe Massa to Williams in an economic way: “we could Not ask for things without offering anything in return. Claire Williams is an entrepreneur, very able, as his father, but we speak not only of business. For example, Williams needed a driver with experience, and it was necessary for Massa to come back. So now we are all satisfied, and obviously, we have contributed financially to the return of Philip“.
Many of the foci of the next season will be, therefore, in the role that can play Bottas in the German team, that comes from winning the world title the last three years. On his head he plans the shadow of the failed experience of Heikki Kovalainen in McLaren (75 points, and a victory between 2008 and 2009 compared to the 147, and seven wins, Lewis Hamilton), the consideration in certain sectors of the paddock that its performance is better than that of Felipe Massa, has not been so superior, and that her agreement would make him a pilot of transition within the team.
To Martin Brundle, ex-pilot of McLaren, and Benetton and one of the most authoritative voices in the paddock in his role as a commentator on Sky Sports F1, Bottas is forced to demonstrate his skills in a car considered a favorite to win the World cup: “Bottas has the speed, but is a different story when you get in to a car that win races and the championship is what is expected, and not a wish. You do not have where to hide“, he stated the ‘pundit’ british Autosport International. “I Think that Valtteri has the mental capacity to handle it. Lewis is in the plan: “come, bring who you wish, and it will be faster than them”, but I think that would be a little bit more edge if it is Fernando Alonso or Sebastian Vettel. This will be very exciting at the end of the season, with so many top riders finishing contract”.