I’d be surprised if Williams let a rival team get their claws into a hot property like Bottas as Prisoner Monekys suggests. But Williams seem willing to put up with a lot of things for money at the moment so who knows.
I think Williams would stand to gain just as much from having Bottas drive for Lotus as Lotus themselves do – and not just money.
Right now, Bottas is the one driver in the paddock with the most experience in current-generation cars on 2012-spec Pirellis who isn’t currently under contract to race for someone else. He is the reigning GP3 champion, and a driver that Williams think highly of. He fits the profile of everything Lotus is looking for.
At the same time, driving for Lotus would give Williams an excellent chance to assess him. In the three races where Pastor Maldonado has made the most of the FW34′s potential (Spain, Valencia and Belgium), he has qualified very, very close to Raikkonen and/or Grosjean. Even before his penalty in Monaco, Maldonado was only a tenth of a second slower than Raikkonen. So when the Williams is on form, it’s comparable to the Lotus – in fact, the two are probably closer together in terms of performance than any other two cars on the grid. Having Bottas drive for Lotus at Monza would give the team a chance to assess him without being forced to give up one of their current drivers. And since it’s unlikely that Lotus will take anyone but Grosjean and Raikkonen next year, there is no real danger of Lotus poaching Bottas away. Even if they did, it probably wouldn’t take Williams much to convince Grosjean or Raikkonen to cross over to their side.
So I think there is something in it for the both of them.