Following Rosbergs announcement that he is hanging up his gloves an orderly queue formed at the Mercedes front door. We ran through the order. In the days following the fairy tale names hit the headlines. Alonso, Vettel, Button. In the last day another name has made its way to the head of the queue with betting being suspended on Sunday. Valterri Bottas. The unassuming Finn more icey than Kimi ‘ice man’ Raikkonen always was a perfect fit to partner Lewis Hamilton.
Bottas is under contract at Williams and easily the teams #1 with Felipe Massa retiring at the end of the season with rookie teenager Lance Stroll taking the seat. Mercedes have considerable power over Williams however, with power units supplied to Williams from Merc. Drivers provide a tenth, maybe two, Merc engines provide a second. If push came to shove Williams will choose the engines over a driver every day of the week.
So why do Merc want Bottas? Its easy to forget F1 is a team sport especially when you see Rosberg taking Hamilton out at turn 3 in Barcelona when he put the car in the wrong engine mode. What you do not see is shots of the Woking offices with 200 staff monitoring tyre pressures during the race. Mercedes want to win the constructors championship so they can sell more A classes. Which ever driver takes the top of the podium is just chit chat before the sales meeting. Bottas guarantees a professional, calm, understanding relationship within the team. The question is probably answerable in two words – less headaches.