Rumours have been rife that Mercedes could be set for a change of drivers in the 2019 season, with Lewis Hamilton confirming that he will be sticking with the Constructors' Champions following the upcoming 2018 campaign.
The 28-year-old Finn Valtteri Bottas replaced Nico Rosberg in the second seat last season, after the German called time on his F1 career, and he came a respectable third place in the Drivers’ Championship, behind his teammate Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
His performances earnt him a contract extension for 2018, but bookmakers Betfair have already priced up a market for Hamilton’s teammate in 2019.
Bottas is remarkably short odds at 1/5 to retain his seat for another season, so the company believe that his future performances will be enough to earn him another year in the hotseat, but the second favourite is Frenchman Esteban Ocon.
The Force India driver and former Mercedes junior is priced at 10/1, but it had been denied this week by Merc mogul Toto Wolff that Ocon is being primed for Bottas’ place on the grid in the future.
"Esteban is one of our drivers and is therefore in the picture, but the team and all of its strength is behind Valtteri," said Wolff.
"If we to start thinking about other drivers, it would mean that the emotional side would not be 100 per cent for Valtteri.
"I can assure you, from the board to every team member, we all want Valtteri to succeed.
"Together with Lewis, he is our driver and we do not think of any others."
Further back in the odds are Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo. Verstappen is priced at 18/1, whilst former world champion Ricciardo can be backed at 20/1.
In purely coincidental timing, Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda this week squashed rumours that Verstappen was ever given an offer to become Nico Rosberg’s replacement last season.
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