After a frustrating season, according to his team boss Toto Wolff, Valtteri Bottas “just wants to disappear back home, recharge the battery, recover and recuperate, and then come back next year”. And Bottas will at least get some semblance of a fresh start in 2019, when he begins working with a new race engineer for what will be his third campaign with Mercedes.
Bottas inherited Nico Rosberg’s race engineer Tony Ross when he joined the Silver Arrows for 2017. However, with Ross being transferred over to Mercedes’ HWA Racelab Formula E team for the 2018-19 season – where McLaren refugee Stoffel Vandoorne will form part of the driver line-up – Bottas will be buddied up with a new race engineer for next year. Exactly who, though, remains a mystery…
“Tony Ross is going to be the chief race engineer of our Formula E programme,” said Wolff after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. “He’s going to dash off into a funny environment with only one race day and funky cities.
“Who replaces him? We’re discussing that. That was a bit of a lie but… give me a few weeks.”
In a press release issued after last weekend's season finale, Mercedes Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin paid tribute to Ross, who helped guide Rosberg to his 2016 title, having joined Mercedes from Williams in 2011.
“I'd… like to thank Tony Ross for all his hard work over the last eight years,” said Shovlin. “He has contributed so much to the past five constructors’ championships, and Nico's driver's championship, so we will all be sad to see him go, but happy we've had the chance to enjoy so much success together.”
After a season in which Bottas finished fifth in the drivers’ standings, the lowest placing of any Mercedes driver since 2013, whoever the Silver Arrows choose will have an important job on their hands to pick him up, dust him off and get him back to race-winning ways.