Retaining Bottas vital for Williams

Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi. Credit: Williams Martini Racing Friday 25 November 2016. Valtteri Bottas, Williams Martini Racing. Photo: Glenn Dunbar/Williams ref: Digital Image _31I3889

Williams Martini Racing Technical Director Pat Symonds, believes keeping hold of Valtteri Bottas, a recent target for the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team as a replacement for Nico Rosberg, is vital for the team going forward.

With their other experienced driver Felipe Massa having retired from the sport at the end of the 2016 season, it is important that Williams retain Bottas alongside incoming rookie Lance Stroll, to give them a reliable reference for developing the car, especially with the new regulation changes next year.

Since losing world champion Rosberg through retirement just days after he won the 2016 title, Mercedes have been keen to sign up Bottas as a replacement and are believed to have offered Williams a reduction in engine costs, in the region of £10 million, as part of the deal, as well as the option to run Pascal Wehrlein, who as part of the Mercedes young driver programme, is still under contract to the Brackley based squad.

Williams are believed to have rejected the current world champions initial offer however, feeling that they could only let someone of Bottas’ calibre go if a driver of suitable experience was available to replace him, which they feel the German does not yet have.

Speaking to Italian publication Gazzetta dello Sport recently, Symonds made his thoughts on the subject clear.

“We will have Lance Stroll on his debut, with no F1 experience, so to hold on to Bottas will be crucial for our success.

“People often underestimate the importance of continuity in a team. Despite all the instruments we have, the driver is still the final link between the engineers and the data to be interpreted.

“You can replace one of them, but you need the other as a milestone, especially in a season of rule changes as 2017 will be.

“To lose him would have heavy consequences on the team.”

Symonds also believes that the new rules could mean that Mercedes engines will no longer maintain the dominating hold they have had on Formula 1 for the last three seasons.

Renault are likely to have found gains in the power area, and Red Bull Racing have always been renowned for producing a supremely aerodynamic chassis, an area the FIA have focused on with the new rules.

Because of that fact, Symonds feels the Milton Keynes based squad will pose a huge threat in 2017, which will make having an experienced driver on-board, who knows the ins and outs of the car, all the more crucial.

“The new regulations are not a guarantee of overtaking moves and spectacle.

“[Bernie] Ecclestone has pushed for us to build cars four seconds a lap quicker, but in order to see real battles you need more balance in performances, and therefore rules stability.

“However, the dominant team may change. Red Bull, after its 2015 crisis, has again built a great car.

“If the Renault engine makes another step forward, in my opinion they will be favourites for the title.”