Does Mercedes have a case in keeping Bottas?
Russell could seem the obvious choice for Mercedes, but Valtteri Bottas has a somewhat solid case as into why he should stay, if he should at all.
Ah yes, the Mercedes driver people love to hate on, no matter the result - Valtteri Bottas, is reported to be replaced by Russell in 2022, but there is more of a case as into why the "Flying Finn" should stay at Mercedes, if he wishes to endure one more year of team orders letting him down than meets the eye.
What is Valtteri Bottas' role at Mercedes?
Valtteri is known to be a Number 2 driver at Mercedes. He joined the Brackley-based team in 2017 after Nico Rosberg shockingly called it quits after winning in 2016. He scored win number 1 at Russia, while playing the second fiddle. While you would suggest that Bottas doesn't have that challenge that he did back in his Williams days, it is known that despite bad luck, the infamous "Valtteri, it's James" team order radio calls and strategy blunders, Valtteri can be fast when he is happy in the car, and he is in a podium spot or is in contention.
Does Lewis Hamilton have a say in who his teammate is?
This matter has a mixed opinion, with some people claiming that Lewis Hamilton has a say in who will be his teammate next year and some not. Mercedes haven't confirmed the details of his contracts but it is widely known that since 2017, when Mercedes signed Valtteri, the Finn remained as Hamilton's teammate ever since. Lewis Hamilton though did say that Valtteri was "my teammate" and that he wouldn't mind seeing Valtteri be his teammate AGAIN in 2022.
How well is Valtteri performing against Red Bull wingman, Sergio Perez?
Valtteri has had a tough 2021 season so far, scoring 0 wins in 10 rounds and only having 1 pole position in his season, the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix. He also had 2 DNFs in 2021, in Imola and Monaco, after a huge crash between himself and George Russell in Imola, fighting over 9th place, while in Monaco, he had a machined wheel nut, revealing itself in the first pit stop, but his run of podiums is quite normal, though without any wins. Sergio on the other hand has outqualified Verstappen once so far, capitalised on Verstappen's massive crash and Hamilton's huge lockup, caused by accidentally activating the "Brake Magic" usually used in SC periods during an upshift in Baku, winning at one of his most successful circuits. He scored 3rd in France for his second consecutive (back-to-back) podium in not only Red Bull Racing, but in F1 as a whole, almost took 3rd from Valtteri Bottas in Styria, before the race ended before his form NOSE-DIVED in Austria and Britain, with Sergio being forced off by Norris going into Turn 4, then forcing Leclerc off the track at Turn 4 and Turn 5 in Austria, receiving 2 penalties, qualifying last after a huge spin in the F1 Sprint debut and finishing a measly P16 in the race. Valtteri Bottas currently sits P4 in the standings, while Sergio Perez sits in P5. Both are currently getting beaten by Lando Norris, Max Verstappen and Hamilton as of the time of writing.
Will the new 2022 Formula 1 regulations play out in his favour
The 2022 regulations are under a year away from us at this point, featuring radical new aero changes and a changing design language of the car. Wheel covers, last seen on the BGP 001, raced by Brawn GP's only drivers, Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello, are making a comeback, but they won't just be allowed to be added onto the 2022 cars, but the FIA and F1 are mandating them, that means every team in F1 will have to add the compulsory wheel covers. Ground effect is sort-of making a return, while the top of the front wheels will have some overhang as part of the changes. With such huge changes to the 2022 cars, the teams will most likely want to keep their current lineups, and it would make sense, considering the overhaul, to keep the driver lineups identical to 2021. This could also benefit Valtteri's chances of hanging on for 2022, even if it's the sole factor keeping him in Mercedes. Only Alpine, Ferrari, Haas and McLaren have confirmed driver lineups, with some confirming driver lineups for 2021 AND 2022 in 2020, such as Ferrari announcing Sainz has signed a 2-year deal to drive for the team for 2021/22 and McLaren announcing Ricciardo's signing for 2021-23 and extending Lando's contract until 2023. It is however, expected that at least EIGHT teams will change their lineups, with Mercedes and Williams included in the 8. This therefore gives Bottas an advantage that Russell, who also has a case behind him, simply may be unable to match.
Would Valtteri Bottas want to stay with a team who have sacrificed him?
Don't forget that Bottas has been sacrificed many times in Mercedes' bids to win WCCs, such as in Russia 2018, when he was ordered to let Lewis Hamilton pass for the lead while he himself was leading and Sakhir 2020, when he fell foul of a tyre mixup after Mercedes put some - or all - of Valtteri's medium tyres on his temporary teammate George Russell's car and was subsequently forced to rejoin the race on his old hard tyres which had severely worn out and race using them for the remainder of that race. He was ordered to let Hamilton by twice so far in 2021, due to his speed - or lack of. Both times in 2021, Lewis turned out to have benefitted from team orders used against his fellow teammate.
What driver will be signed (or re-signed) by Mercedes?
Don't rule out Valtteri Bottas, who has been a solid Number 2 driver, from that second Mercedes seat. Though many have beliefs that George Russell will sign for Mercedes, others have beliefs that Valtteri Bottas is staying. Who do you think will get - or keep - that seat?