Zoue wrote: Jenson's Understeer wrote: Exediron wrote:
F1Oz wrote:Surely Bottas would prefer to have a seat at Mercedes (even if for one year) and has that year to prove he should get an extension.
But Mercedes will also want top drivers if they can get them - and with the best car - they hold the cards.
Mercedes already has a top driver, one who is believed to be interested in a new contract after 2018. They've shown previously that they're not interested in putting another top driver alongside Lewis, so why would they mess with what's already working?
Each 'top' driver is a different set of circumstances, though. You can write off a Hamilton/Alonso partnership at Mercedes, and most probably a Hamilton/Vettel one, too. Would Max Verstappen fit alongside Lewis? I don't think so. He's phenomenally talented on the track and has age on his side, but he/his father are developing a nasty habit of throwing their toys out the pram a little, and it does feel (at least to me) that if it were Hamilton vs. Verstappen for the WDC, you've got a lot of potential for it to combust.
Daniel Ricciardo, on the other hand, is potentially available at the end of next year, would be a clear upgrade on Bottas and has co-existed with his teammates to date. Of course, that hasn't been under the pressure of a situation where he and his teammate are in direct competition for the WDC, but of the four 'top' drivers he seems like the one who would cause the least issues alongside Lewis. Certainly, if I were making that decision and Ricciardo was available, I'd have no qualms about pairing those two, and would be a lot more confident in the mood remaining positive than I would with Hamilton alongside Vettel/Alonso/Verstappen.
I broadly agree, except that I'd say the drivers who are most likely to have issues with competitive team mates would be Hamilton and Alonso only. So far I haven't seen Verstappen having notable issues with Ricciardo (well, none that immediately spring to mind), while Vettel seemed to take his beating by Ricciardo fairly equanimously. I know Max and Sainz famously didn't get on, but not entirely sure who was the originator there.
I think both Alonso and Hamilton need to have team mates who don't threaten them, while the others haven't really shown that to be the case (although that said a case could be made for Verstappen because of his relationship with Sainz). So I don't see a partnership between Alonso and Hamilton working, but one of the other three with them might work, although I still think it would be a headache. Mercedes seem far better off sticking with a Hamilton/Bottas scenario, where Bottas is clearly inferior and apparently apolitical, while still being quick enough to steal points off competitors. Kimi fits the first two criteria at Ferrari, for example, but he's not consistently doing the the latter point. The only probable issue with that scenario, of course, is succession planning...
I think with Max, the biggest reasons I'd avoid pairing him with Hamilton are less because of potential issues between the two (although I do maintain my point that in a direct fight for the WDC between the two, I think it would very quickly become very difficult to manage) and more because of his/Jos' willingness to be very critical when things aren't going right. If you've already got Lewis Hamilton in your lineup, is it worth signing Max and adding that extra hassle, the extra micromanagement he requires, etc.? You wouldn't get that by sticking with Bottas, nor are you likely to get that with Ricciardo.
And while I do agree that Alonso needs to have a teammate that won't threaten him, I'm not sure if I agree that the same goes for Lewis. On one hand, things got really bad between him and Nico, but at the same time I feel like he'd still welcome having any of Vettel/Alonso/Ricciardo/Verstappen as his teammate because he does seem to welcome that competition. I'd certainly say Seb is another guy who wouldn't want a teammate who can threaten him, although as I said in the Seb/#2s thread, I believe that's more because he wants to enhance his own chances of being successful than because he has any particular fear a strong teammate would beat him. The same goes for Alonso, really. Ricciardo strikes me as the kind of guy who wouldn't care who his teammate is, as long as they had a good working relationship, which is why I think he could work alongside Lewis.
That said, I completely agree that if Mercedes can be successful with a Hamilton/Bottas partnership then they don't need to go changing that. Especially if they continue to only be challenged by one team, and that team continues to adopt a strategy whereby one of their drivers is scoring a much lower percentage of points.