F1: Esteban Ocon or Valtteri Bottas? Interesting days lie ahead for Mercedes
The first half of the current F1 season ended in a relatively bad fashion for Valtteri Bottas. A DNF in Germany followed by an eighth-place finish at the Hungaroring was certainly not the way Bottas expected to finish his first part of the season.
Still second in the Driver’s Championship, the Finn faces an uncertain future at Mercedes with rumours suggesting that Toto Wolff would be tempted to give French driver Esteban Ocon a chance at the wheel next year. With Lewis Hamilton certain to be a Mercedes driver next year as well, it will be the Bottas who will have to make way for the young Frenchman.
Having won the opening race in Australia and then winning the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, the Finn was going toe-to-toe with his teammate Lewis Hamilton for the Driver’s Championship.
But now, he is just eight points ahead of Red Bull’s young sensation Max Verstappen and 62 points behind Hamilton, who is running away with the Driver’s Championship.
Coming into the break, Toto Wolff is having a task in his hand to analyse the facts and choose his driver to partner Lewis next season.
Having already ruled out moves for Max Verstappen and Williams driver George Russell, the Austrian team Principal has made it clear that it will be a choice between Esteban Ocon and Valterri Bottas.
The two below-par performances couldn’t have come at a worse time for Bottas. Having crashed into the barriers in a forgettable weekend for the Mercedes team at Hockenheim, the Finn damaged his front wing after his car came in contact with Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc in the first lap itself.
Dropping 20th after pitting in the early laps, Bottas still managed to get into the points with a P8 finish. However, it was still dissatisfying after he had qualified to start on the front row along with Max Verstappen a day earlier.
With Toto Wolff deciding his drivers for the next year this month, it will be interesting to see whether he’ll stick with the experienced Bottas or replace him with the 22-year-old Esteban Ocon.
With young guns like Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris and Alex Albon running the show in Formula One, the Mercedes management must be very tempted to bring in Esteban Ocon, who formerly had a good spell at Force India.
The 22-year-old is currently a reserve driver at Mercedes. He ended the 2018 Driver’s Championship in 12th place for Force India scoring 49 points, 10 ahead of 13th placed Charles Leclerc who drives for Ferrari now.
The Frenchman is a hungry driver and optimistic just like the youngsters on the grid who are driving fabulously for other teams. The question arises whether his inexperience would cost the team some points in the future.
Valterri Bottas has been a fantastic driver throughout his Formula One career. It is quite clear from the points that he is still the second best driver this year after Lewis Hamilton.
Even if Max Verstappen has shown signs of being better than Bottas, the Finn being ahead of the young driver even after having two bad races shows a statement about Bottas' quality.
Exciting days lay ahead for the Formula One fans because there will be news one way or other. Now it’s up to Toto Wolff to make the best decision for the team.