F1 Summer Break Review: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport
(Photo: Getty Images/Dan Istitene)

F1 Summer Break Review: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport

The Silver Arrows continue to steamroll their way to another world championship. But the future of Bottas is uncertain.

callum-mcavoy
Callum McAvoy

Nothing sums up the dominance of Mercedes in 2019 than the end of the German Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton had endured one of the worst races of his entire career.

After starting on pole, he had crashed, broke his front wing, suffered a 50-second pit-stop, was penalised for entering the pits incorrectly and just for good measure, he had spun off towards the end. Everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong. And despite all of that, he extended his lead in the driver's championship.

Now 62 points clear of teammate Valtteri Bottas and with the team 150 points ahead of nearest rivals Ferrari, both title races are virtually over. Yes, a couple of poor results could change that but the chances are slim. If previous seasons have told us anything, Mercedes only get stronger after the summer break and will arrive in Belgium even more imperious.

Photo by Charles Coates via Getty Images
Photo by Charles Coates via Getty Images

Even in races where the Silver Arrows have shown weakness, lady-luck has been on their side. Charles Leclerc was certain to win in Bahrain before a mechanical issue dropped him behind Hamilton and a controversial penalty took victory away from Sebastian Vettel in Canada.

Love it or hate it, Mercedes are virtually unstoppable

Driver Standings:

Lewis Hamilton: 1st (250 pts)

Valtteri Bottas: 2nd (188 pts)

Constructor Standing: 1st (438 pts)

However, off-track, things aren't so simple.

Following the retirement of Nico Rosberg after his title win in 2016, the team were rushed into finding a replacement who could fill the German's racing boots. Two and a half years on and Bottas is yet to fully convince everyone that he is that driver.

Bottas isn't a bad driver of course, but he pales in comparison to the likes of Hamilton, Vettel and Max Verstappen. A winless 2018 did nothing to improve his reputation and as this season began, speculation was rife about potential replacements.

Then Australia happened, after taking Hamilton at the first corner, Bottas not only beat but completely humiliated the five-time world champion, winning by over 20 seconds. 

Photo by Lars Baron via Getty Images
Photo by Lars Baron via Getty Images

Was this sign of things to come? Had the Finn, at last, announced himself to the world as a title contender and the man to stop Hamilton's reign at the top. 

Not really.

Aside from a second win at Azerbaijan and a great duel with Hamilton at Silverstone, Bottas has been his usual self. Good but not great.

This is where Esteban Ocon comes in. Somewhat unfairly ousted by Racing Point, the highly-rated Frenchman has been waiting in the wings for his chance. 

Currently Mercedes' reserve driver, Ocon has already shown his qualities in an F1 car. An alumnus of Mercedes' young driver programme, the 22-year-old is more than just a great racer.

As F1 prepares for the 'changing of the guard', a decade long three-way fight between Red Bull's Verstappen, Ferrari's Leclerc and Mercedes' Ocon is something that everyone wants to see.

Photo by Mark Thompson via Getty Images
Photo by Mark Thompson via Getty Images

Ocon's only drawback that he may be 'too' good. Managing two number one drivers in Hamilton and Rosberg was hard work for Toto Wolff. If Ocon can get anywhere near Hamilton's level it will undoubtedly cause friction between them.

With Hamilton so close to eclipsing Michael Schumacher's record 91 wins and seven world titles, the Brit won't be considering retirement anytime soon. If anyone is to leave, it will be Bottas.

It all depends on what Wolff ultimately wants at Mercedes. Hamilton and Bottas in amicable and safe partnership. Or does he spice things up by bringing in the young and exciting Ocon.

This is the driver transfer to keep an eye on.

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