Toto Wolff talks about the tyre management difference between his F1 drivers, as both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas expand on contract.
For Mercedes, they endured a frustrating weekend in F1 French GP, where Hamilton was second and Bottas fourth, having adopted a one stop strategy and sticking to same. The Finn got passed late on in the race by both Red Bull drivers.
He subsequently giving vent to his feelings over wanting to switch to a two-stop strategy, which was welcomed by Wolff. However, the core scenario was that Bottas couldn’t keep his tyres alive as Hamilton managed to, which made his situation for two-stops evident.
It is not the first time for Bottas to be in such a position and questions has been raised about his tyre preservation skills when compared to Hamilton. Wolff agreed it is not the same, but credited the Finn for the progression he has made over the years.
“Looking back, I still think Bottas delivered a good race in France, to be honest because he was right up there with Lewis and Max for large parts of the race and I think the development goes in the right direction to be honest,” said Wolff to written media.
“There is a gap in tyre management but we are looking at in the detail. I see a real progression with how Valtteri tackles the races, qualifying…we never doubted it,” summed up Wolff, who also clarified on the contract ‘wind-up’ that he played in France.
Like every weekend, Wolff was asked about Bottas, where he said in the TV media that he will decide on this driver selection issue over the winter. With George Russell waiting in the wings, it is something he is asked with extreme regularity – which is why he clarified.
“Yes, it was a wind-up,” said Wolff. “Because you get asked this question so, so often. They are two drivers who still can have a great career in Formula 1. And I want to see Valtteri’s full potential this year. And to continue to observe George in driving for Williams and handling this situation.
“I’m very happy for Bottas bouncing back in France. I think he is in a good head space. We had a good discussion a week ago and he knows that it is all in his hand. And that is good news because it is all in his destiny and its only about driving this car fast. I think Valtteri knows the only answers to these rumours is to perform on track,” summed up Wolff.
Amid these talks, Bottas reiterated that he knows the game and how it is played in F1. “Everyone knows how this sport works: if you make results, you will earn your place where you deserve to be,” he said. “If you don’t make results, and the team feels like they need to change the driver, then they’ll change the driver. It’s very simple in this sport.
“Again, I’m just going back that there’s 16 races to go. The team knows what I’m capable of, they know how valuable I’ve been in the recent years of getting the championship, etc. It’s not yet time for those discussions. We’re now in the beginning of the triple header, that’s the focus now, and I’m sure in the off weeks we’ll have time to discuss when it’s going to be the time. But that’s the situation, and that’s where I’m at. I need to try and maximise. It’s simple.”
While the discussions on the side of Bottas is less, even if some talks, Hamilton, though, confirmed that his discussions have started with Mercedes. Interestingly, he added that he hoped the Finn continues as his teammate, who he regards as a fantastic one.
“We have begun discussions, and yep, not a lot to say, too much on it, we have had discussions and things are positive,” said Hamilton. “And yep, look, Valtteri is my team-mate now, and both of us have had ups and downs in our careers. But as I said, I think he is a fantastic team-mate, and I don’t necessarily see that it needs to change.
“I think Valtteri has always been the best team-mate overall, and when I say team-mate, it’s not just about driver performance, it’s about team morale, it’s about how you work in the team-mate environment. We’ll continue to improve on our communication, and hopefully do better moving forward,” summed up Hamilton.
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The story was co-written by Neil Farrell