Wolff: Bottas has to justify his seat at Mercedes

Published on 20 Dec 2018 09:47

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has said that he believes Valtteri Bottas has what it takes to succeed in Formula 1 with the German team, but he will have to show that he deserves his seat at Mercedes next season. 

Bottas became the first Mercedes driver since 2011 to not win a race during a season after failing to stand on the top step of the podium in 2018. In contrast however, his teammate Lewis Hamilton scored eleven wins during the course of the year, and won his fifth world championship. 

There will be added pressure on the Finn next season because the highly-rated Frenchman Esteban Ocon has recently been given the job of reserve driver for the Silver Arrows, after he was forced out of the Racing Point team in favour of Lance Stroll.

“Every racing driver in a Formula One car has to look over his shoulder. It is a very brutal sport where only the best ones survive and they are very well aware,” Wolff told Reuters.

“They have made the selection of the top 20 racing drivers in the world and every single year they have to justify that they deserve the place. It is not only valid for Valtteri but all the others as well.

“Valtteri is a fierce warrior and he wouldn’t be where he is today if he was not an outstanding racing driver. I think he absolutely embraces the challenge of being teammate and competitor to Lewis Hamilton,” said the Austrian.

“I think where things have gone wrong with Valtteri in 2018 was that he was very unlucky. He could have, should have — but that doesn’t count — won three races.”

“I think within any racing driver there’s a certain mental setback that happens. And it happened to Valtteri and he will work on it over the winter and will start the season fresh. All points go back to zero and he has the same opportunity like he has in the last year to win the driver’s title. He certainly has the talent and the intelligence.”

Replies (6)
Posts: 22
It would appear that following the sudden exit of Nico and the 'stop-gap' that ensued, the writing is now on the wall
US ajpennypacker 20 Dec 2018 15:520
Posts: 1508
Some will try to defend Bottas and say that team orders broke him, which if true would be an affirmation of his second tier status. But the reality is that issuing orders after 75% of the season is complete, and with no chance of winning the championship is not just reasonable but expected. Bottas messed his season up long before Russia.

That being said, I do expect him to recover to 2017 levels and I expect Mercedes to let him fight Lewis like in 2017.
SE calle.itw 20 Dec 2018 17:360
Posts: 5898
To me the team orders didnt break him, but they did crush his chances this year. He'd have at least one win this year had they not prioritized Hammy, and he'd have 2 had he not gotten that puncture (misfortune for sure, but still sour). I think he coulda gotten 2 wins early season with ease had they not steamrolled him so badly.
US ajpennypacker 21 Dec 2018 03:480
Posts: 1508
Other what's this race I don't remember where team orders robbed Valteri of a sure win? I only remember Russia and that was very late. Baku was bad luck. What's the other one?
Posts: 303
Being mentally hit by prioritising Lewis says everything - he has to work harder to bring in the points when he has the chances. It wasn't the puncture, or the mechanicals for me - I recall examples where he had the opportunity to take and didn't go for it - like Hamilton, Verstappen or vetted you know for sure would have. It will take an enormous effort to keep his seta next year given the public messaging from Wolf.
Posts: 1000
Oh how I would love for Bottas to adopt an Nick Rosberg attitude. Don't get me wrong I don't think he's better than Hamilton but I dispise the Wolff comments. If he wanted to retain ocon in F1 he shouldn't have put Bottas in that car but an straightaway placement of Ocon in 2018. The issue is that Ocon isn't really an improvement over Bottas an he knows that. Ocon in that car would bring more problems than resolutions and that's why he's not replacing him.

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Driver profile
Name FI Valtteri Bottas
Active As Mercedes Driver in Formula 1
Date of birth Aug 28 1989 (29)
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