OCTOBER 13, 2016
Bottas now key to 2017 silly season?
Valtteri Bottas is now the key to the conclusion of the 2017 driver 'silly season'.
That is the claim of Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, even though it might be said that Force India's Nico Hulkenberg is another key figure.
But widespread reports say the German has found a way out of his Force India contract and is set to sign a three-year deal to switch to Renault.
Force India, however, thinks Hulkenberg would be unwise to go.
"It would be foolish to force a driver to drive for us if he doesn't want to," said sporting boss Otmar Szafnauer.
"But I think Nico would be ill advised to go. We are fourth in the championship -- and where is Renault?"
Meanwhile, it is believed that Renault's other main preference for 2017 is Valtteri Bottas.
That is despite the fact that the Finn looks set to stay with Williams, but apparently the two sides are arguing over the duration of his deal, with Bottas wanting only a one year deal.
So with a longer-term Renault contract on the table, Bottas could join Hulkenberg in also leaving his current team.
It would be a big blow to Williams, according to an unnamed team boss.
"They would have a real problem," the boss is quoted as saying. "There are no real team leaders among the drivers who are still available."
There are some attractive options with sponsorship to offer, however, including Felipe Nasr, Esteban Gutierrez, Jolyon Palmer and the Mercedes-backed Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon.
And even the mainly unsponsored Daniil Kvyat is being linked with Force India and Sauber, while Kevin Magnussen is reportedly on Haas' short list.