Sim­ply the (fifth) best?

F1 Racing - - INBOX -

The de­ci­sion from Mercedes to sign Valt­teri Bottas is some­what un­der­whelm­ing, given that he was ef­fec­tively the fifth-choice re­place­ment for the re­tir­ing world cham­pion, Nico Ros­berg.

I know con­tracts are bind­ing, but ev­ery­thing and ev­ery­one has a price. Maybe Se­bas­tian Vet­tel and Fer­nando Alonso are bid­ing their time for 2018, but will they re­gret not ruth­lessly pur­su­ing a drive in a po­ten­tial world cham­pi­onship­win­ning car? Re­mem­ber the three­way scram­ble for the Wil­liams drive in 1992-93, with at least one champ of­fer­ing to drive for free?

Maybe there is a new en­tente cor­diale among the teams not to poach driv­ers, or maybe Mercedes’ de­sire to pla­cate Lewis has ul­ti­mately driven the de­ci­sion.

Is it his­tory re­peat­ing it­self, sim­i­lar to when McLaren re­cruited Heikki Ko­valainen to re­place Alonso back in 2008, or will Bottas turn into the new Mika Häkki­nen? Ei­ther way, good luck Valt­teri – for 2017 and be­yond. Michael O’Neil By email

Will Bottas prove to be the next Mika Häkki­nen… or a Heikki Ko­valainen?

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