Bottas and Ferrari: Where there's smoke, there's fire

Formula 1's silly season erupted on Friday when Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport reported that a deal had been struck for Valtteri Bottas to join Ferrari in 2016.

It has been no secret that Ferrari has been chasing the Williams ace – as a decision around what the Maranello team did with Kimi Raikkonen was central to F1's 2016 driver market.

But although multiple sources with good knowledge of the Bottas/Ferrari situation remain adamant that nothing is committed to contract right now, not even finally decided, it does not mean a deal will not happen.

It looks like momentum is building to shake things up for next year.

Bottas interest

With Raikkonen's struggles against Sebastian Vettel this year having left Ferrari pondering his future over recent weeks, the team would not have been doing its job if it had not been evaluating potential replacements.

A sound-out of Daniel Ricciardo went nowhere, with the Australian's contract with Red Bull leaving him no room for escape – and his bosses not interested in selling him.

There were contractual complications for Bottas too, with Williams holding an option over the Finn's services for 2016 that mean Ferrari would have to agree a financial deal with its Grove-based rivals to get hold of him.

A few weeks ago, it appeared such a deal was a long way off, with Williams and Ferrari believed to be far apart in terms of what they thought was an acceptable deal.

What the Corriere report suggests, however, is that the talks got back on track – and a figure has been agreed that leaves the way open for it to try to hammer out a deal with Bottas.

Does that mean a deal will happen? Not necessarily.

Close but no cigar

While it is clear that Bottas and his management are open to a Ferrari future, until a contract is done and dusted then it would be jumping the gun to say everything is set.

Mark Webber's recent autobiography showed that he had got as far as having a Ferrari contract in his hands for 2013, before it eventually opted to stick with Felipe Massa. 

So while there may be intent and interest from both Bottas and Ferrari to get things moving, until it is done and both parties signed, then anything can happen.

Market shuffles

Should things move on over the summer and the Bottas/Ferrari union actually happen, then Williams will have no shortage of candidates as a replacement.

As well as that though, it will have had its coffers boosted by a payment from Maranello which will allow it to secure a top-line driver that its sponsors demand.

Rumours on Friday suggested that Felipe Nasr and his big sponsorship backing would be one option, while Nico Hulkenberg has also been linked.

However, Williams is a team gunning for the front – and if it is to attract high-brow sponsors and keep current major brands like Martini and Unilever happy, then it needs winners: which is why Jenson Button would be such a good fit.

But like the Bottas situation – nothing is sorted yet.

What we can say though is that the summer holidays look like they are cancelled for F1's driver managers.

As Bottas's manager Didier Coton intriguingly admitted, F1's silly season is too hot for that right now.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Valtteri Bottas
Teams Ferrari
Article type Analysis