Silly Season in Formula 1. Is Valtteri Bottas almost sure at Mercedes?
At Mercedes, no decision has been made yet as to who will ride alongside Lewis Hamilton in 2020. So far, the Finn Valtteri Bottas, has the best cards to secure that position according to ABMS.
Mercedes-Junior Esteban Ocon seems to be a sure successor to the German Nico Hülkenberg at Renault. This would be one competitor less for Bottas to secure his Silver Arrow place. George Russell, the second Mercedes junior, described his own chances for a Mercedes cockpit as “very, very small.”
But who could then be another serious contender to Bottas, who is highly appreciated by Lewis Hamilton himself? Team boss Toto Wolff had cryptically hinted in Hockenheim:
“I do have a dream team in mind, but I won’t reveal this to anyone.”
Many insiders are sure, that this can only be Red Bull star Max Verstappen. It would fit into Mercedes’ plan to announce their driver pair after the summer break.
Right now Verstappen’s contract states among other details that if Verstappen is not among the top three after the race at the Hungarian GP this coming weekend, he can go. Otherwise, his contract is automatically extended by a year.
At the moment the Dutchman is in third place with 21 points ahead of Sebastian Vettel. The probability that he will be overtaken is very low. For that Vettel would have to win the race and Verstappen perform worse than 9th place.
Verstappen himself seems to favor staying with Red Bull. He sees a realistic chance at Red Bull-Honda to reach his goal: youngest ever World Champion. He can still achieve that goal in 2020.
Red Bull Motorsport Advisor Helmut Marko to ABMS: “After the win at Hockenheim, it is clear to me that Max will stay!”
The Italian Corriere della Sera reported, however, that Verstappen, just like Lewis Hamilton, was rejected by Ferrari because they fully back Charles Leclerc. Verstappen’s father Jos can only laugh: “Rejection? We were not even in contact. “
*This article was first published in German at autobild.de/motorsport.