The dilemma of filling the second seat at Mercedes continues as the domino effect of driver moves that would follow is realised.
Valtteri Bottas has a manager who can assist in getting him into Mercedes next season. Toto Wolff, who is also a key figure at the Silver Arrows has approached Williams for a deal that gives the team an engine bill reduction thought to be in the region of £8m.
But Williams have rejected the initial offer, realising that having an experienced driver in the team is vital to them fulfilling their potential next season. With 18-year-old Lance Stroll in the sister Williams, they will need the insurance of experience to counter the mistakes they anticipate from the rookie.
This is the problem for Mercedes, their options are limited in that silly-season has already finished. Any acquisition will pass on the headache of selecting a driver very late on to another team. Williams have already denied the services of Pascal Wehrlein, claiming that his single year in Formula One with Manor isn’t enough to satisfy the need for F1 experience. Mercedes echo this issue themselves.
There has been talk of Felipe Nasr joining the team if Bottas departs. The Brazilian was the Williams test driver in 2014, but a trade for the Finn would put the team in a weaker position.
Mercedes might have to look elsewhere unless they can make the deal more worthwhile for Williams. One outside option that would give the team a highly-rated, promising driver is Carlos Sainz. Sainz is part of the two-teams and beyond Red Bull empire, but inside sources claim that the energy drinks giant would be willing to release the Spaniard if Mercedes were to make an offer.
This would also be good news for Pierre Gasly, the new GP2 Champion who doesn’t seem too pleased with the sideways move to Japan’s Super Formula series. An F1 driver hatchery for a very lucky few that recently helped Stoffel Vandoorne’s racing CV look that bit sharper. If a seat at Toro Rosso becomes free, it’s an easy fill that doesn’t potentially cause a headache for several teams.
We think Sainz would be a great addition to Mercedes, he isn’t getting into Red Bull anytime soon with Ricciardo and Verstappen likely to stay for the next few years. These are Mercedes’ options it would seem and it’s hard to imagine any driver beyond Bottas or Sainz getting a look in.