Fer­rari chas­ing Bot­tas to re­place Raikko­nen

F1 Racing - - INSIDER -

It could be one Finn for another at Fer­rari as the Scud­e­ria con­sid­ers its post-Kimi driver op­tions for 2016 and beyond

Fer­rari have ap­proached Wil­liams driver Valt­teri Bot­tas about driv­ing for them from 2016 on­wards.

The Scud­e­ria are in­ter­ested in the 25-year-old as a re­place­ment for fel­low Finn Kimi Räikkö­nen, whose con­tract ex­pires at the end of next sea­son. Sources say Fer­rari have made ini­tial con­tact with Bot­tas, who ex­pressed an in­ter­est in the move and agreed to talk in more de­tail at a later date.

Bot­tas’ rep­u­ta­tion has grown after a strong 2014 sea­son at Wil­liams, in which he fin­ished fourth in the world cham­pi­onship, scored six podi­ums and was gen­er­ally su­pe­rior to ex­pe­ri­enced team­mate Felipe Massa.

Mercedes is also a pos­si­bil­ity for Bot­tas in 2016 - but only if Lewis Hamil­ton fails to agree terms on a new con­tract. And, even if that were the case, Bot­tas would likely be up against Alonso for that seat.

Mercedes’ strongly favoured out­come is to re­tain Hamil­ton along­side Nico Ros­berg, whose deal runs at least un­til the end of 2016, but the new world cham­pion is ex­pect­ing a bat­tle over money, be­liev­ing Mercedes will want to re­duce his cur­rent $31m re­tainer.

Mercedes can play hard­ball with Hamil­ton be­cause they have most of the cards. Hamil­ton is F1s most mar­ketable driver, and has a global ap­peal beyond any­one else, with only Alonso close. But Mercedes have the best car and there are few other se­ri­ous op­tions if Hamil­ton were to leave.

Hamil­ton might not be that wor­ried about Bot­tas, even though he knows he would sign for not much more than 10 per cent of Hamil­ton’s ex­ist­ing salary, be­cause he might feel Bot­tas was not a big enough name.

But he will know that Alonso is des­per­ate to get into a Mercedes for 2016 – and the Spa­niard is said to be pre­pared to sign for some­thing like $20m to get into a dom­i­nant car.

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