Following the unexpected exit of Nico Rosberg, Mercedes’ first choice to replace him is Williams driver Valtteri Bottas. So far Williams has rejected an initial offer to release Valtteri Bottas from his 2017 contract. In a discrete development, Mercedes technical boss Paddy Lowe may seal a deal to join Williams.
Legendary former Ferrari technical director James Allison is set to replace Lowe at the world champions.
Mercedes Formula 1 chief Toto Wolff has zoomed in on Valtteri Bottas as his favored option as a replacement for Nico. After winning his first world title last month, Rosberg retired just after five days. There are two years still left on his Mercedes contract.
Wolff held a meeting with Williams on a proposal that he gives them a major reduction in their engine bill. The proposal may have been in the region of €10m euros (£8.4m); more than half the total fee in return for liberating Bottas. Williams also has the option to exchange Mercedes reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein in Bottas’ place.
Wolff, who is part of Bottas’ management team, considers the 27-year-old as the perfect replacement for Rosberg. Wolff thinks that Valtteri Bottas is quick, reliable and consistent points scorer. Moreover, he will be relatively easy to manage alongside the more mutable Hamilton.
So far Williams has turned down Wolff’s first offer but negotiations are expected in the coming days.
Williams feels that they need an experienced racer in one of their cars in coming season because their other option is Canadian rookie Lance Stroll. The 18-year-old F1 driver Stroll has won the Formula Three Euroseries in 2016. However, he comes with a budget reputed to be at least £20m. This huge budget will be used for an extensive test program intended to prepare him comprehensively for his F1 debut.