It's no secret that Valtteri Bottas in a Silver Arrow cockpit was not in Toto Wolff's plans, at least short term-wise.
Despite the overall good performances shown by the Finn troughout his career, his Mercedes' seat was only due to the sudden retirement of Nico Rosberg from the sport at the end of the 2016 season. Even if it was a relatively rushed decision, chosing Valtteri appears to have been a positive one: Bottas has been quick but never enough to worry Lewis Hamilton. Furthermore he has never refused to help the #44 driver when needed, even when it meant to sacrifice a sure win.
Still now there's a curiosity in Wolff's mind, and his own words just confirm that: "It would be interesting to see one of our young drivers in a Mercedes car."
The two main candidates are of course the Silver Academy talents Esteban Ocon and George Russell. While Toto himself adimitted that for the Brit at the moment it would be an early jump, good words were spent towards the 2015 GP3 champion: "Everyone knows about Esteban's talent. He is a great addition to the team."
At the same time though, the Team Principal recognises that keeping Esteban hanging wouldn't be fair towards the young driver: "Other teams are interested in Ocon, we should look into that for both our benefit and Esteban's"
Big decisions to make ahead therefore. There's no point on hiding it. "Now we will focus on the next two races, trying to secure the best result as possible. Then, during the summer break, I will carefully decide which is the best option for us."
The consistency and the improvements made by Bottas may be outclassed by the high expectations set on Ocon.
Another possible nail in the coffin might have been Toto's answer to a 'dream team' question: "Yes, I have a dream team in my mind, but I just can't tell you", meaning that at least one of the current Mercedes drivers does not appear on the list.
Is the ice going to break under Valtteri's feet? For the moment many cracks are appearing, but Wolff's positive impression on Bottas' improvements matched by a convincing second half of the season may just represent his life jacket.