Wolff: Bottas must perform at Hamilton's level going forward

Published on 04 Jan 2019 14:44

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says that Valtteri Bottas must compete at the same level as Lewis Hamilton in 2019 to secure his seat at the Silver Arrows in 2020. The Finn was heavily outperformed by Hamilton in 2018, his second year with the German manufacturer.

While Bottas managed to pick up a handful of victories in 2017, he failed to clinch a win in 2019, but came close on a number of occasions. While the 29-year-old slumped to fifth in the championship, teammate Hamilton bagged his fifth world drivers' title.

Bottas ended the year 161 points down on Hamilton, and Wolff says that Bottas' performances must be better for the upcoming season. His seat is under scrutiny as highly rated Mercedes junior Esteban Ocon is waiting in the wings, eyeing the front-running drive for 2020.

"Valtteri knows exactly where he needs to be next year," said Wolff. "He needs to have all the bad luck gone and perform on a level with Lewis. That is what is needed for the 2020 year. He knows very well that, and he has that in him.

"Lewis improving means Valtteri needs to improve. I've seen that improvement all the time with him, but you are going against a five-time world champion. He needs a start where it's right up there with Lewis and all the other drivers for the championship. That is what he needs."

Wolff, who used to be part of Bottas' management team, has faith that the former Williams driver can successfully challenge and beat Hamilton but understands that it is a very difficult task to hand out.

"We are seeing the best Lewis that I've seen in the last six years, and there is a reason why he is a five-time world champion," he said. "Beating a five-time world champion at the peak of his performance, is going to be very difficult and Valtteri knows that. But I think that he has it in him.

"He can win - he has proven it [in 2018] on a few occasions, but he had bad luck or was in a position where he could not win. If that turns into a positive momentum that is actually driving for the championship, I think that Valtteri can win the championship."

Replies (15)
SE calle.itw 04 Jan 2019 17:57+2
Posts: 5898
Certainly, but you wont allow it, will ya, Wolff? We all saw what you DID(!!) to Bottas, and you prefer it that way, dont ya? Much more comfy that way.
US Rindtchamp 04 Jan 2019 20:21+2
Posts: 291
Very true, Toto is a total hypocrite to suggest that when he was him who ordered Bottas to let goldenboy past .. and twice in one race.
US ajpennypacker 04 Jan 2019 20:38+1
Posts: 1508
Yeah... I makes a lot of sense to have a driver that loses points can be worth millions of pounds at the end of the year. I'm sure that Mercedes hopes their ROI on Bottas is lower rather than higher. Because everyone knows that it's less expensive and efficient to bring in a new driver than to retain one. Or was it the other way around? ;)

I really don't understand why you're so passionate about this Calle. Mercedes did two blatant team orders this year. Both unsavoury. The one in Monaco was embarrassing and I agree with all the condemnation. The second one in Russia would have be executed by every team in F1 under the same circumstances. It was unsightly to be sure, but I cannot think of any other team that would have refrained. Can you? Because it made sense. It was sensible. Because Bottas could be 3rd at best by that point. Because that's what happens when you underperform all year. I feel like we've talked about this already.
SE calle.itw 04 Jan 2019 21:060
Posts: 5898
If Im honest part of it is hoping to get some folks here to at the very least giggle, and the other part is pure disappointment. As I've explained before, I've long regarded Toto to be the epitome of sportsmanship, yet he really showed his colours as of late. I think we can refer to more team orders than that though, like all of the times Bottas had to sacrifice his races just to ensure Hammy a win he likely coulda gotten anyway. And you are mistaken when you say Russia woulda been done by every team. Say what you will about Red Bull, but they would 90% of the times not have done it in order to min max one of their drivers, at least not with Vers vs Ric. And again, Monaco was never okay. In any circumstance. Ever. Im sure you who dislike B-teams agree with that. Yes, other teams could've and sometimes probably would've done the same, but it wont justify it, and nobody else woulda done it so blatantly. Just the pure contempt at display was awful. And yes we've talked about this at least 4 times, and I wont change my stance on it. Probably. :)
US ajpennypacker 05 Jan 2019 08:430
Posts: 1508
I think we probably agree more than we disagree. But Regarding your example I agree Red Bull have allowed racing, but they’re not fighting for position im the championship. They were guaranteed third so you can afford risk. At any rate, always fun disagreeing with you :)
SE calle.itw 05 Jan 2019 19:570
Posts: 5898
Yeah I'd say. But thats how it is, in a healthy discussion you'll agree and disagree on certain topics. As long as its a nice, polite conversation, I enjoy either. :)

I kinda dont agree that Red Bull werent fighting for position, they certainly did at least try to retain 3rd, at most tried desperately to parasite on the mistakes of the upper teams. I think Red Bull are so desperate to win a constructor's title that they will probably do anything to maximize total points per race, something thats at risk with team orders only benefitting one driver.
Posts: 339
As I’ve said last time around, if Bottas gets ahead in the points LH will wheel out his conspiracy, mardi, blah blah. Merc won’t want another Rosberg year and all the non-teamwork press it generates. LH will get into wheel banging to make his presence felt and bring back the order of life.
SE calle.itw 05 Jan 2019 19:580
Posts: 5898
All the more reason for Bottas to git gud, if you ask me.
Posts: 303
No one is seriously saying Bottas got an unfair hand in 2018 - except his fans surely? He was on the wrong end of team strategy for one reason one - he didn't perform to his or his car's potential for the first half the year. Simple as that. Had Bottas and Hamilton had positions changed, do you seriously think Merc would have worked hard to overturn that position through team orders ? Bottas doesn't have the ruthless streak to compete at the very top - I hope I'm proven wrong but I've seen nothing in his racing for last few years that tells me Im wrong. The top guys in these teams are performing at another level - sometimes that means being overly aggressive/assertive to make a point - he will know that now.
Posts: 273
He is showing Bottas the door. Team orders ,strategy designed to benefit Lewis what a bunch of bs.
US Rindtchamp 05 Jan 2019 15:46+2
Posts: 291
I take it you missed the races in 2018 when Bottas was ordered to let goldenboy past? or not to overtake him, or in one race let him past twice?
US mcbhargav 05 Jan 2019 17:460
Posts: 800
Posts: 270
If Bottas was on Hamilton's level we would have another Alonso/Hamilton, Rosberg/Hamilton type season, which Wolff said he doesn't want.
I wish he would just cut the crap.
US ajpennypacker 07 Jan 2019 02:530
Posts: 1508
I think that if he was on his 2017 form nobody would complain. He clearly had a dip in performance. Besides, what do you expect a team manager to say about a driver in the team who is struggling? "you need to be a better #2 driver"? Come on
Posts: 270
I agree with you.
Not saying anything about motivating a driver intra-team.
This BS is on a Mourinho level of management, which I dislike a lot.

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Driver profile
Name FI Valtteri Bottas
Active As Mercedes Driver in Formula 1
Date of birth Aug 28 1989 (29)
Weight 70 kg
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