Given Ferrari’s fortunes, Valtteri Bottas finds himself in a position to jump Sebastian Vettel to P2 in the Drivers’ Championship. However, I don’t think Bottas is deserving of the spot. While his early season form was good, his post-summer break form has been found wanting. Bottas has humbly accepted that he is low on confidence and his results are proof. In 4 out of the last 5 races, he’s been beaten by at least one Red Bull Racing car. In Suzuka, he was beaten by both!
But given how Formula 1‘s championship system is devised, he could still outscore Vettel to P2, if Ferrari’s reliability woes continue. However, in a season where Mercedes have averaged between the best and second-best car at every circuit, I would rate Bottas 5th (out of the top 6 drivers), ahead of fellow Finn, Kimi Raikkonen. Unfortunately for him, his spot with the team in 2019 has been under threat even before he possibly signed his extension for 2018.
Mithila Mehta and I have partnered with Firstpost for the 2017 Formula 1 Season and will feature in their Firstpost Pole Position videos all through the season. Basically, we’re now available in text, audio and video!
It is assumed that both Red Bull Racing drivers could be available come 2019. Daniel Ricciardo’s contract runs out at the end of 2018 and if Red Bull Racing are unable to deliver a car capable of performing consistently at the sharp end of the grid, there is talk that performance clauses could help Max Verstappen get an early release. Should this happen, it would be unfortunate for Red Bull Racing – they lost Sebastian Vettel to Ferrari in 2015 under such similar clauses. A former multiple World Champion team being reduced to losing talent thanks to the politics of the hybrid power units!
The other driver who has already make a serious claim for the Mercedes seat in 2019 is Esteban Ocon. His 25 consecutive race finishes is a record he’s equalled with Max Chilton. While a comparison with Chilton might not be pleasing for Ocon, let’s remember that he’s scored several more points than Chilton. I would relish a Hamilton vs. Ocon partnership in the Mercedes in 2019. Hopefully, it will be a far more competitive team mate battle than Bottas has been able to provide till date.