As Mercedes puts a hold on any driver announcement prior to the end of the year and Williams hints that they may be willing to consider releasing Valtteri Bottas, current driver Lewis Hamilton says that it’s important to avoid getting a driver that would create poisonous situation:
“It’s important who we have in the second car,” he said in an interview with Channel 4. “It’s important for the team’s morale. We’ve seen in other teams and times [that] it can be a poisonous effect on a team, the arch-rivalry between drivers.
“For sure, I’m really happy here, I love being where I am, and whilst, OK, there’s been some interesting scenarios, we generally always pull through.
“So we’ve got to make sure that whatever we bring is at least as good as what we had, if not better, in terms of creating that energy. I’ve had experiences and divisions in the past which I would strongly advise not, in a team, to have that scenario.
“But what I meant is I’ll drive against every single driver you want… Ultimately when they decide, which is their decision, they can put any driver.
“Bring Fernando, bring Sebastian, bring whoever you really want. I drove against Fernando in my first year and beat him, so that’s not a worry for me. I’m happy to drive against any of them. But in terms of what’s best for the team – probably not the best idea.”
Little doubt in my mind that Lewis would welcome anyone in the other seat and take the fight to them. In fact, I think he would rather have an Alonso, Vettel, Verstappen, Ricciardo beside him in which to battle but there is the issue of toxicity with two alpha males.
Recently departed world champion Nico Rosberg faced some tense situations with Lewis at Mercedes and Lewis has his own mental battle with Fernando Alonso when they were at McLaren together. Avoiding those hat-throwing and Spanish GP 2016 moments would be good for the team.
This is why, perhaps, Bottas is a good person to bring in. Capable of scoring points and low drama although he’s got a feisty side to him that may not be a docile as Mercedes or Lewis might think. For me, the real matchup would be Alonso or Daniel Ricciardo. I would pay big money to see Lewis and Ricciardo as teammates battling each other.
Hat Tip: Channel 4 via Motorsport