Ferrari chasing Bottas to replace Raikkonen
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.