This is why it's difficult to have sensible discussions on here these days as people invariably take umbrage at perceived slights on drivers that simply aren't there
I don't say Lewis has no value. I'm saying the reality of it is the car overall is the biggest factor in Mercedes' dominance and if you were forced to make a choice to swap out one part of the equation the driver would almost overwhelmingly be the logical bet. In simple terms Lewis wouldn't be winning in any other car on the grid, whereas Mercedes would still be top with any other driver. It's debatable whether they'd be quite as far ahead with another driver, but they wouldn't suddenly drop into the midfield.
Max or Charles aren't not winning because they are no good, but because they don't have the car under them to enable them to win. None of this is a reflection on any driver, but since the start of the hybrid era Merc has produced a largely unbeatable package which Lewis to his credit has taken full advantage of, but the results wouldn't be there without the car. Where in that equation you put chassis over PU is more subjective I think (in fact, I'm probably going to revise it to chassis/PU/driver) but not when it comes to either of those vs the driver.
Sorry, but your assertion that the difference between RB and Mercedes is the drivers goes beyond mere opinion I feel and flies in the face of reality. There can't be many people who feel that Bottas is that much superior to Max - or even at all - that he would be regularly beating him even without reliability issues for the latter.
if the cars were closer, then the equation might be different. E.G. Leclerc has been dragging that Ferrari into qualifying positions which it doesn't look like it should be in. And in the midfield the drivers can certainly have a big impact. But Merc is unquestionably so far ahead that the drivers are simply the icing on their particular cake.
Finally, Russell showed what a massive change a car can make to a driver's performance. Same driver, same PU, but all of a sudden he's going from fighting to stay off last to fighting for the win. Clearly the biggest factor in that equation was the car. Mercedes have produced a beast which excels on all fronts
Russell was that different to be honest..
Was decently fast on Saturday but didn't outqualify Bottas.. that said, yes he had limited time to get fully integrated. But lets not for forget that he had seat time in Mercedes the year before, drives the same engine etc. So wasn't like Hulk jumping in at RP. So did as he does at Williams.
On Sunday, he did well sure. But he does usually outdrive he bad teammates at Williams. So many drivers say how easy it is to get up to speed in these current gen cars, its getting that last little bit - the difference maker ie 1-2/10ths that is hard. So on Sunday when you are never going anywhere near flat out.. sure it can make him look good especially in that chassis. That said, he nailed the start of the race, got ahead of Bottas but as nearly anyone.. he could just cruze.. he did pull off a pace with significant tire advantage. But still, yes he did it. Unfortunately, we have no idea what could really have been due to the horrendous mistake by Mercedes.
Should have.. could have is just that.. didn't. Plus, it was a weird track to boot.
We have no idea what he would be like at Monaco or Silverstone or Monza for example against Bottas or Lewis... Where it really matters.
So I still stand... that Lewis is the biggest reason Mercedes have had comfortable margins in winning when you look at what Bottas has brought to the team and how close Max can get to Mercedes. So the RB was much better then they are given credit for but also just as Lewis eeeks out the time, as does Max. So who is to say that when together Lewis would not still be ahead.
Just at RB looked bad due to Gasly and Albon, same goes for Mercedes. Frankly, the cars are way more even then its appears simply because RB messed up the 2nd car worse then Mercedes have with Bottas.
Chassis for chassis, engine for engine.. I think its nip and tuck between them. What's made the real difference and exaggerated Mercedes advantage is Lewis.
Imagine if the line up was Bottas Latifi vs Max Sergio in 2020.. what the end of season would have looked like... there in lies the issue of trying to compare Max and Lewis and what they bring..
had 2020 been run with Bottas - Latifi against Max and Sergio, there is a very good chance RB would have won the WCC... maybe not the WDC but that would have been close.