With it being over one week since the unexpected retirement of Nico Rosberg from Formula 1, it has been reported that Valtteri Bottas is Mercedes‘ first choice to replace the 2016 Formula 1 World Champion at the team to partner Lewis Hamilton for the forthcoming 2017 Season.
Mercedes Want Valtteri Bottas for 2017
Bottas, 27, currently races for Williams and has extended his contract with the team for the 2017 season where he will be partnered by Lance Stroll who himself is replacing a retiring Felipe Massa. Due to the experience that Bottas has for the team, Williams have reportedly declined an offer from Mercedes that would release Bottas from his 2017 contract.
As reported by BBC Sport, Mercedes Team Principal, Toto Wolff, has offered Williams a reduction in price for their engine bill that has been said to be in the region of €10 million. Furthermore, Williams have also apparently been given the option to run Pascal Wehrlein for 2017 in the event of Bottas leaving the team, with Wehrlein himself being a Mercedes Junior Driver and the Mercedes’ current reserve driver.
Of the options that Mercedes have following the departure of Rosberg, Bottas is perhaps the best candidate for the seat, with the Finnish driver having the experience to race for a top team such as Mercedes, as well as the speed and the talent. When compared to other options for the seat such as Pascal Wehrlein, it is clear that Bottas would be the preferred choice, with Wehrein lacking in experience with the 2016 Formula 1 Season being the German driver’s debut season in the sport.
It is also for this reason that Williams do not want to let go of Bottas for 2017, as if the Finn did leave for Mercedes, Williams would be left with an inexperienced and young Lance Stroll at the team. In addition to this, pairing Wehrlein with Stroll would also be a risky decision, with neither driver having a lot of experience, meaning that 2017 could potentially be a difficult season for the Grove-based team. As well as this, both Wehrlein and Stroll are very young, with Stroll being 18 and Wehrlein 22, meaning that this pairing would not bode well with Williams’ sponsors, with neither driver being over 25 for promotions.
In the event of Bottas joining Mercedes for 2017, possible replacement options for Williams would include Pascal Wehrlein, Felipe Nasr, who is yet to resign with Sauber for next season and has experience working for the Williams team, and Esteban Gutierrez, who is still looking to secure his Formula 1 future after being replaced by Kevin Magnussen at the Haas F1 Team for 2017.