What Mercedes' interest in Valtteri Bottas means for F1 2017
"The name of Carlos Sainz has been mentioned in recent days, and with Pierre Gasly in the wings, the Red Bull camp actually has a spare driver to hand that it might want to promote.
"Sources say that there have been conversations regarding Sainz – but the suggestion is that Red Bull was stringing Mercedes along, and rather enjoying the fact that the world champion team was up against it. He was never going to be made available. [...]
"For Mercedes, Bottas is at least a realistic target, and Williams a team that was willing to talk. [...]
"... the driver question is the big one.
"Felipe Massa ticks all the boxes, at least as a temporary solution for 2017. But does he want to do it?
"... the Brazilian's retirement announcement was prompted by the fact that Stroll was coming, Bottas wasn’t leaving, and there wasn’t going to be a place for him at Williams. [...]
"It’s a solution that would have huge appeal to Bernie Ecclestone, who is keen to have a Brazilian driver on the grid....
"As for Bottas, he has four years of experience behind him, and as such is perfectly poised to make the step up to the world champion team. [...]
"There’s also the intriguing question of whether he will only be guaranteed a Mercedes race seat for 2017. The superstars were not available at short notice for next season, but some big names will be out of contract and on the market for 2018."