One of the worst things that could have happened to Lewis over the winter is for Nico to retire. One of Lewis’s main motivations would have been to “right the wrong” of the 2106 championship, but now that opportunity has been taken away.
Not that Lewis needs motivation usually but he does have a delicate psyche and grabbing back the team and possibly overall lead would have made the dear boy feel better about himself. Also, of course, 2106 may be the last year we see such a large gap in performance between his Mercedes car and the rest of the field (magic 8 ball what say you?) so I think that added to his frustrations.
Now what to do about 2017? One thing is for sure he has learned a lesson in making every point count, for whatever reason he wasn’t at his best in a few races (Baku probably the most memorable) and he needs to do the homework on why this occurred and what can be done to avoid it in the future. Every driver will have his/her ups and downs with reliability over their career so you must leave no stone unturned to maximize the points when they are available.
As the rise of the Red Bull continues, 2017 is looking more like at least a 2 team affair so that adds a couple of more drivers into the race battle dynamic, strategies will need to change, and no longer will the luxury of turning down that Mercedes powerplant and managing the gap be an option most of the time.
Knowing Lewis, I think he will relish this challenge as he will be able to fully attack for the race wins instead of having to play the team game and race under defined parameters of engagement (if he ever did), we may see some more hat throwing but this time it may be propelled at the boys in blue. As good as Lewis seemed to be on getting the most from the Pirellis over a stint I think the ability to push harder over the entire race will suit him well as he is surely one of the best at attacking the corner entry which the new rules should compliment
As for his new team mate, Valterie Bottas, we will have to see where he stacks up and if he can mount a challenge. Even if he does, there won’t be as many issues within the team as the competitiveness of the Red Bulls will erase the need to play fair on strategies as all eyes will be on getting the best of them, especially if the new lower degradation Pirellis allow for more full chat running.
Valterie won the lottery of the plum drive over the Winter which I’m sure seemed like the longest on record for him (which is saying something for a boy from Finland!) as he awaited the outcome of the negotiations with Williams. Now he is confirmed it will be all go to get to know the car, the team and come to terms with the fact that every time he shows up at a Grand Prix he will have a very real chance of winning.
This is quite a change as although he has a great track record of winning in the lower formulas he’s been in F1 for a while with no real hope of winning a race and was graded on how well he did in spite of his cars performance, so now he has to change to a winning mentality and all the pressures that comes with that.
For the team they are just hoping he can follow Lewis around and protect their reign of Championships but for Bottas he will be on a mission to not only win races but to follow in Rosbergs’ shoes and deny Lewis a 4th crown. He is quite a bit different personality to Nico so it will be really interesting to see how his relationship with Lewis pro or di-gresses. I think he will be less likely to be affected by words from his team mate if it comes to that, and he will not have to sell his soul to go mano-a-mano if the speed is there.
Also he is currently on a one year plan as the team choose to keep options open for 2018 so he must make the most of it which I believe he will, Heikki Kovalinan he ain’t. Also keep in mind team boss Toto has strong ties to Bottas and will be sure to keep it all on the up and up