But Toto is the team.
He is the one who decides how it is run, the person who sticks his neck out and the person who bangs his iron fist on the table if need be. I honestly wouldn't read much into it. Hamilton is an extraordinary driver - driving against him would take a toll on anyone. And I'm not sure that any driver driving besides Lewis has to be as good or better. Rosberg too was an exceptional driver. Perhaps not as naturally fast as Lewis, but he had the technical insight and a different approach to match him many times. The draw back was perhaps splitting the team into two halves which at some point will cause friction within the team too.
I think this year is just a great year. The team is extremely focused as one united team and even if Bottas hasn't quite challenged Hamilton to the point perhaps Rosberg would have, it has enabled the team to grow together and fight Ferrari, secure the WCC (which seems a formality). Bottas might be hard on himself, but it was always going to be a huge challenge to win the WDC in his first year, beat Lewis etc. He is doing pretty alright and next year, he will be perhaps stronger and a little closer.
Sadly, even if Bottas raises his level, I'm not sure if Mercedes will resign him, IF they can get their hands on Max or perhaps Ricciardo. I am not sure, but performance is one thing, marketability another. On some level, Mercedes is in the sport to sell cars and promote their image and win championships. If Hamilton stays, it will be a big question as to who they will stick into that second seat. If Max is available, I think they will try to get him if only to avoid him driving at another team that is capable of a championship. Better to have the talent of the next generation in your car than driving against you. Not entirely sure Dan has that kind of appeal. If RedBull hangs on to Max and are prepared to let Dan go, they may go for Ricciardo too, but on what kind of contract?
I'll openly admit I prefer Dan as a driver and persona (personal opinion), but I do think Max is the one teams will sell gold for to acquire...