Toto Wolff is of the view that Lewis Hamilton’s complications shed away in his Mercedes stint and improvements made by Valtteri Bottas in F1 2019.
After having won his maiden F1 title in 2008, Hamilton’s results started to go down with the decreasing performances of McLaren in the next few years. The British was winning races but not titles.
His personal life took a jolt as well which included his strained relation with his then girlfriend and his father too. In the middle of it, Hamilton took a bold decision to join Mercedes via Niki Lauda and Ross Brawn’s help.
The decision pretty much changed his career as he now sits on the brink of winning the sixth title to become the second best F1 driver in the world in terms of championship won, one behind Michael Schumacher.
In the last few seasons, Hamilton’s mistakes has lowered considerably, when his rivals have made plenty. Even in terms of title, only Nico Rosberg has managed to take it away from him in 2016 season.
Hamilton’s life has been smooth for now as he is involved in multiple other ventures like music and or fashion. He looks at peace and the only time he had issues was during the heated rivalry with Rosberg.
His relation with Mercedes F1 team boss Wolff has improved as well and the Austrian feels a big change in the British driver from McLaren to Mercedes. He also defended his lifestyle which has been criticised a lot.
“He’s an integral part of the team and has developed as a racing driver – but even more spectacularly as a human being,” said Wolff in an interview to F1. “When he joined from McLaren it was, for me, like a raw diamond in a sense.
“You could see complications in his life, and maybe a lack of stability or understanding of what was needed. All that has disappeared through the Mercedes years. Every year, he became a better Lewis and, knock on wood, in the last two or three years, we’ve barely seen any mistakes.
“And if they happen, he was the first one to admit them, and that has contributed to our culture of being brutally honest with each other. I think we need to stop putting people in boxes and say this is how a racing driver has to behave.
“Simply make the effort to try and understand the human behind the helmet and try to carve out the framework that makes that person the best him, or the best her, and make them perform at the very top. I believe that Lewis has other interests, be it music or fashion, and it takes his mind off between races.
“Having a good time is something that I think is very positive and very important for his performance on the racing track. We are very open with each other on what we do. We Facetime, we send videos. I feel in a very good place with him.”
While Hamilton has his share of advancements, Wolff also spoke about Bottas’ improvements from a dreadful 2018 to a better 2019, even though the Finn sits behind Hamilton at the halfway mark.
The Austrian feels that Bottas has erased some of the deficits to Hamilton. “Bottas suffered a lot at the end of the year because not only his performances were not matching his expectations, but also we didn’t really give him a chance because it was clear that everything was needed to be behind Lewis to win the championship,” said Wolff.
“And that can send you in a negative spiral and I think what he has managed to do is to recover. He went back to Finland, thought about things, I think he realised that he has tremendous opportunity in being a Mercedes works driver in F1, what is at the moment the best car, against the best driver, and that is an amazing gift that has been given, an opportunity he has earned.
“When he returned, he said, I got to nail it and do the best I can. You can see that now, his qualifying performances are great. He erased the deficits that he had against Lewis and I think we are seeing a stronger Valtteri from race to race.”
Even with praises, Bottas’ seat with Mercedes remains under threat as Esteban Ocon waits in the wings. Wolff noted about a decision during summer break but it remains to be seen what comes out of it.