‘That’s Basically A KO’: Wolff Pinpoints Source Of Bottas’ Early Season Struggles

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff insisted that Valtteri Bottas has shown “enormous” speed so far this season.

Valtteri Bottas and Toto Wolff - Formula1news.co.uk

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has pinpointed the source of Valtteri Bottas’ difficulty to battle Sir Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen in the opening four rounds of the 2021 F1 Championship.

The Finn is currently third in the Drivers’ Standings on 47 points, 44 points adrift of Championship leader Hamilton.

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Bottas lost a lot of time to Verstappen and Hamilton at last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix due to Charles Leclerc overtaking him at the start and compromising his pace.

Speaking this week, Wolff said he isn’t concerned about Bottas’ mental state and stressed that traffic has hindered him in the opening few races of the season.

“In the mental state I would say he is very strong and he is in a good place, he keeps scoring,” Wolff said.

“In qualifying, it was three drivers within the tenths, the weekend before he was on pole, so his speed is enormous.

“It’s just when things go wrong at the start, or you’re in a gaggle of cars and you lose time to the leaders, that’s basically a KO.

“Behind Charles [at Barcelona], I don’t know how much he lost, he will know better, 20 seconds or so, and then obviously it’s where you are, you’re third on the road at best,” the Austrian added.

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Continuing, Wolff commented on Bottas’ decision to ignore team orders to let Hamilton through, as the seven-time World Champion was fighting for the lead of the grand prix while Bottas was on a different strategy and out of contention.

“Racing drivers, their instincts are what they are,” Wolff said.

“We would have wished that maybe because Lewis was on a totally different strategy, he would have come through faster, but in the end, we scored the result.

“I can relate to Valtteri that he had a tough day again and you’re annoyed. If it would have lost us the race I would be more critical but in the end, this is something we can learn off.

“It goes both directions, and this is what we will be discussing, but in a very camaraderie-like way,” he concluded.

Following the Spanish Grand Prix, Bottas said he is not in Formula 1 to simply let drivers, including his team-mate, drive past him.

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“I definitely could have let him [Hamilton] by earlier,” the Mercedes driver said in a post-race interview.

“But I was doing my own race, so there is always a moment to calculate things and I was trying to get Charles [Leclerc] out of the pit window so I could stop again and try and go for an extra point [with the fastest lap of the race].

“So the main thing in my mind was my own race.

“There wasn’t that much [talk over the team radio]. They told me not to hold him up too much but, like I said, I was also doing my race. I’m not here to let people by…I’m here to race,” he added.

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