Bottas, the safe and uninspired choice

Date published: December 30 2016

As reports of Mercedes closing in on Valtteri Bottas’ signature for 2017 gain momentum, PlanetF1’s Melvill fears it is the safe and uninspired choice.

According to various reports, Mercedes will soon announce that Bottas is replacing Nico Rosberg as Lewis Hamilton’s 2017 team-mate.

It is a good call by Mercedes as the Finn has proven to be a solid and consistent driver, one who can bring in the points, the podiums and, in a Mercedes F1 car, will likely bring in race wins as well.

He has finished fourth, fifth and eighth in the last three Drivers’ Championships as Williams returned to form – thanks in part to their Mercedes power unit – and mixed it up at the front.

He is good, you cannot deny that, but is he great? There have been few signs of that since his debut in 2013.

Although the former GP3 champion created a storm in 2014 with his podium results – six in total; he was applauded more for the results than the manner in which they were achieved.

Driver of the Day is not an award that off the top of my head would have gone to Bottas in any of his 77 starts.

I tried several attempts at the ‘best of Valtteri Bottas’ or similar such phrases in Google and came up with little of substance except Daniel Ricciardo’s “epic” pass on the Finn at the Italian GP.

It didn’t inspire confidence – or enthusiasm.

Throw in the fact that Bottas, and Pat Symonds, both conceded that the 2015 rumours linking the driver to Ferrari “disturbed” him and one has to ask how he will cope against the mind games that Hamilton can play.

Turning to Bottas, who is managed by Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff, also doesn’t say much for Mercedes’ young driver programme.

As Red Bull’s Helmut Marko pointed out: “You have a young driver programme and you have the highly-rated Wehrlein,” he said. “But according to our information it won’t be Wehrlein in the car. This means you don’t trust your own junior programme.”

He aptly added: “Okay, Wehrlein is very young, but no risk, no fun.”

Mercedes, though, are closing in on the safe and uninspired choice.

If, Bernie forbid, F1 is facing another season of Mercedes racing alone at the front I’d be okay with that if Hamilton was fighting against Alonso, Vettel or Verstappen.

Hamilton against Bottas, not so much.

Melvill

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