Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has dismissed the suggestion that Valtteri Bottas has mentally “checked out” from the Silver Arrows.
The Finnish driver, who joined Mercedes in 2017 following Nico Rosberg’s shock retirement from Formula 1, was told earlier this year that he won’t be racing with the Brackley-based team in 2022.
Bottas will instead be driving for Alfa Romeo, with George Russell coming in to replace him as Sir Lewis Hamilton’s team-mate.
His form initially improved after this move was announced, but he has struggled in recent races, leading to some to suggest that Bottas has mentally “checked out” from Mercedes.
However, Wolff believes Bottas is still motivated to fight for Mercedes.
“I don’t think he’s checked out,” the Austrian told Channel 4.
“I think he was brilliant in Turkey. We just need to have him in clean air,” Wolff added, referencing Bottas’ struggles to carve his way through the traffic in last weekend’s Qatar Grand Prix.
“When he’s in clean air, he just disappears into the sunset. I think we need to have him right there in Saudi Arabia.
“I think we could potentially have a good car, knock on wood, and have him in the top four to start and then everything can go, and we need him,” Wolff added.