News broke Thursday that Valtteri Bottas had signed a new one year deal at Mercedes, meaning that the likeable Finn will stay with the season for a fourth consecutive season. Bottas joined the World
Champions for the 2017 season, after Nico Rosberg announced his shock retirement following on from his 2016 Championship victory.
Since joining the team, Bottas has achieved 12 pole positions and 8 race wins and finished 3rd in the championship in 2017, 5th in 2018 and 2nd in 2019. It’s not exactly surprising or even exciting news. It was fairly obvious Bottas would sign a new deal, as even though team mate Lewis Hamilton is yet to put pen to paper on a new contract, it seems that is only a matter of time and the two drivers will stay together. They get on well together and work well together in the team, which is what Mercedes needed after the fractious and nerve wracking relationship between Hamilton and Nico Rosberg from 2013-2016. While the relationship started well, it quickly crumbled and resulted in numerous on and off track skirmishes, including Spain ’16, where they crashed with each other on the opening lap, and USA ’15 after Lewis had won his third championship and threw the ‘2nd Place’ cap at Rosberg, only to have it thrown back at him. You wouldn’t see Bottas doing that!
Part of me thinks Mercedes have taken the easy route. Bottas can pick up wins here and there, but when Hamilton is on form, Bottas can’t get near him, as we have seen this season. Bottas won the opening race, but Hamilton had a poor weekend. Since then, Hamilton has won the following three races, and Bottas has been solid and consistent in picking up podiums (he would have finished 2nd in Silverstone if it wasn’t for his tyre failure), but has never really offered a serious challenge for the lead. He is just what Mercedes need; a reliable runner who can pick up points and podiums and wins every now and then, and won’t upset the apple cart. He gets on well with Hamilton but doesn’t get under his skin, so it’s a perfect scenario for the team.
It’s boring, however. I’d love to see Hamilton have a team mate who can challenge him more seriously than Bottas. That’s why I enjoyed the pairing of Hamilton and Rosberg. They got each other wound up and really pushed each other on track, with Hamilton coming out on top more often than not. Let’s not forget the tumultuous year that then-rookie Hamilton and then-Champion Fernando Alonso spent together at McLaren in 2007. Even Jenson Button managed to get under Hamilton’s skin from time to time and actually outscored him during their three seasons as McLaren team mates from 2010 to 2012. Hamilton posted various tweets about what was going on, showing he wasn’t happy and showing that it was possible to really rile him and affect him mentally.
There’s no denying Hamilton’s incredible ability behind the wheel, but it would be good to see him have someone alongside him who can offer more of a challenge on a regular basis. Young Mercedes star George Russell is contracted to Williams until 2022, so that’s him out of the frame for now, but perhaps Mercedes thought about Sebastian Vettel or Max Verstappen? Who knows, but maybe they thought it might upset the apple cart too much. Having had a driver alongside Hamilton who had the ability to fight with him seriously in Nico Rosberg, Mercedes know all too well what can happen when team mates are fighting for the championship between them, especially seeing as it looks like it’s just going to be the Mercedes drivers fighting yet again for this years crown.
Either way, I really hope now the contract talks are done, Bottas can get back to his best this year and put up more of a fight, and carry on into 2021 as well. Time will tell. He better make sure he stocks up well on his porridge!
In Other News
After Sergio Perez tested positive for COVID-19 just prior to last weekend’s British GP, he was of course replaced by the much loved and talented Nico Hulkenberg. It has been unclear who will be driving for Racing Point this weekend alongside Lance Stroll, but I understand Sergio has come out of self isolation now and has had another test done. Racing Point have said he will be back in the car for the weekend should his test come back negative.
Whilst it is good news that Perez is in good health and may be returning soon, I can’t help feel sorry for Hulkenberg. I think most of the F1 world was happy he was coming back for a race or two. I know I was. I was gutted when the car let him down before he even left the garage and was unable to take the start and race. I really wanted to see how he would have got on, so it is a shame we may not see him race this weekend.
He has said that he is talking with various teams about a possible return to the sport for 2021, however, so we may not have seen the last of The Hulk yet! It’ll be good to see him back in the sport, hopefully in a car that can get him to the podium, finally!
I think that is just about all for F1 news, so until next time, take careens stay safe