The Williams Formula One team doesn’t just want more money to agree to let their driver Valtteri Bottas take Nico Rosberg’s seat at Mercedes. They also demand an experienced driver to take Bottas’ seat, reports BBC Sport. Otherwise, they’re left with the youngest guy on the grid and whoever they can pull from every other major team’s leftovers.
Deputy team principal Claire Williams clarified the team’s position on “Will they or won’t they let Bottas go?” to BBC Sport:
I’m delighted to see that a team like Mercedes lists Valtteri as a potential replacement for Nico.
We have always known Valtteri is one of the sport’s key talents and are proud that the championship leaders recognize this.
However, Williams has its own ambitions and we must always ensure we give our team the best opportunity to move forward. Any changes would only be made if Williams remains in a strong position to compete and develop in 2017.
If we did allow Valtteri to leave, we would only do this if an experienced, credible alternative was available, such as someone like Felipe Massa, for example.
Whatever we decide, it must be in the best interests of this team.
Williams has been jonesing for more podiums and wins to get on par with the top-level teams in F1. This year, they finished fifth in the constructors’ championship—which is good, but not good enough.
New hire and rad Canadian billionaire teen Lance Stroll needs be paired with a more experienced driver who can show him the ropes, as it will be his first year of Formula One. Bottas is the perfect guy to do that since he’s been with the team since 2013.
Thus, Williams’ demands for more money and—more importantly—a driver of appropriate talent is understandable. If Bottas leaves and they can’t convince Felipe Massa to un-retire, they’ll have two drivers who are new to the team, and the possibility of sucking is high.
It’s an incredibly awkward place for Williams to be, as they also use Mercedes power units in their cars and can’t afford to anger the one engine supplier who’s been leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else for the past few years.
Williams rejected Mercedes’ initial offer, which was to reduce Williams’ engine bill by €10 million (approximately $10.4 million in ‘Murica Bucks), per BBC Sport. Williams is expected to hold out for the full €17 million buyout ($17.7 million) in order to let Bottas go.
Separately, Williams will be hiring former Mercedes’ executive technical director Paddy Lowe for an senior management role with the team, per the BBC. However, added technical know-how means nothing if neither of Williams’ drivers turn out to be any good at driving the car.
Perhaps Williams need to frame this in a more urgent tone, since Mercedes may or may not have Williams by the shiny custom-milled ultralight nuts right now: Williams demands a quality human sacrifice! The Martini spirits will not be appeased by less! Heed this warning or we all suffer.
Correction: The lead sentence should have read Mercedes, not McLaren.