It has been interesting to follow the Silly Season so far in 2017 and one of the key issues could be the 2019 contract expirations that the teams all know about. I find the entire driver signing and acquiring to be such an interesting yet secretive process within F1 and other forms of motorsport.
Conversations, hints, rumors and allegations about Red Bull’s drivers have been ripe this week and other notions such as Sergio Perez, Kimi Raikkonen, and Valtteri Bottas are also in the front of a lot of fan’s minds.
The issue of Valtteri is interesting to me because as we mentioned in our commentary the day he was signed at Mercedes, the one-year deal is a very interesting concept. I wasn’t quite sure why Valtteri would gamble his Williams option for a 1-year deal but then perhaps the entire deal with Williams is for power units, cash or even a place for Bottas should Mercedes make changes in 2018. All supposition and guesswork on my part here, I have no insight to the driver contract signed by Williams or Mercedes.
As we made our way through 2017, Valtteri has been very well received by the team, Lewis and fans for his performances so will Mercedes sign him for an extension?
“Valtteri is doing a good job but I’ve been here for a while and I don’t think you should be rushed into a driver decision,” said team boss Toto Wolff.
“The market becomes pretty interesting in 2019 and onwards and you just need to plan ahead what’s happening.
“That doesn’t mean that anything speaks against Valtteri because he’s clearly our favourite, the one we want to stay with us for a very long time. But we just need to make up our mind.”
That’s some serious limbo for Bottas but I also believe that’s the answer for the press while the conversations could be different within the team. The driver market is a game of chess and big money and knowing your strategy is thinking many steps ahead, perhaps Mercedes has their eye on someone and don’t want to get too leveraged into a driver for a seat they want to keep open. A common situation in F1 to be sure but how they navigate this will be very interesting and if you’re Valtteri, would you take another 1-year deal?
I would suggest he’s done enough to warrant staying at Mercedes but is that the team’s long-term goal and Lewis’s contract will have to be factored in this decision too. I don’t envy Toto in this decision but for me, Valtteri has been doing a good job but there’s a part of me that would love to see Alonso there so we could see a real battle up front between Lewis, Fernando, Seb, Max and Daniel. That would be fun to watch.
Hat Tip: Sky Sports F1