During the Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend it is clear that Fernando Alonso and his crew have ramped up the hunt for a race seat in a top team as it becomes increasingly unlikely that Honda have no idea how to resolve the engine crisis that has virtually ended their partnership with McLaren.
Alonso obviously covets a Mercedes drive, and indeed it is reported that he will take a hefty pay cut for such a privilege. His obvious target is to replace Valtteri Bottas and partner Lewis Hamilton.
But the Spaniard’s dream is not shared by Mercedes chief Toto Wolff and team chairman Niki Lauda who happened to have dinner with Alonso’s long time associate Flavio Briatore.
The photo of the trio on Twitter obviously caused a stir in the paddock, forcing Wolff to pay down the occasion, “If you have dinner with Flavio it’s clear that you talk about Alonso. But we are very happy with our current driver line-up. There’s no reason to question that. So there wasn’t any talking about Fernando joining the team. We talked about Indy…”
Bottas was signed to replace retired World Champion Nico Rosberg, and although he has not been able to match Lewis Hamilton in recent races, he has done a solid job for the team scoring four podiums and a win so far this season.
Wolff explained, “At the moment there is no reason why not Valtteri? I think we just want to give ourselves time to see how the season pans out. Probably it’s about getting more and more confidence. No reason not to continue with Valtteri.”
“He just has to continue what he does now. I wouldn’t want to attach it on a specific race result. He’s a great addition to the team, and every day he’s with us, it becomes more clear.
“I’ve been in the sport now for seven or eight years, and sometimes taking your time is not a very good, comfortable situation for a driver, but it’s good for the team to understand what’s happening, and this is why we won’t be rushing into any decision when it’s not necessary,” added Wolff.