Toto Wolff moved to clarify his labelling of Valtteri Bottas as a "sensational wingman" to Lewis Hamilton at the Hungarian Grand Prix, insisting he did not mean to downplay the Finn's title chances, while hailing his performance at the race as the best of his Mercedes career.
Bottas allowed Hamilton to streak clear and secure a sixth career win at the Hungaroring, holding up the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen for the majority of the second half of Sunday's race.
He could not hold onto second place, however, as he lost a chunk of front wing in a collision with Vettel before shunting Daniel Ricciardo soon after as he struggled for grip.
Bottas said he was "hurt" by Wolff saying he was Hamilton's wingman, but the Mercedes team principal came out backing his man when given a second chance to sum up his race.
Wolff said: "That's exactly why things that are not being discussed directly face to face are being completely spun out of control in a wrong way.
"In today's race, starting P2 after lap one, Valtteri's race was the perfect wingman's race. I don't mean it in championship terms, we have no number one and number two.
"It was just how he was racing, was from my standpoint the best race so far with Valtteri at Mercedes in the last three [two] years.
"The bittersweet feeling I have is he would have deserved to have finished P2.
"It was where he started and where was after lap one but as you say, maybe the word wingman doesn't do him justice. He drove a sensational race and helped Lewis in a way to build a lead. But Lewis on the other side drove a faultless spectacular race as well."
Bottas also moved to clear up any confusion over his own comments by taking to social media after the race...
Some out of context news around..
I have not called a meeting with the bosses for Toto saying I was the perfect wingman in this race. There is no need to. I was disapponted with my end result in the race and saw everything in a negative way for a moment. I know what he ment — Valtteri Bottas (@ValtteriBottas) July 29, 2018
And he would have said the same about Lewis if he’d be in same situation and had a similar race.
We are on equal terms and I trust the team 100% on that. All good. We’ll keep pushing! It’ll come. #VB77 @MercedesAMGF1 — Valtteri Bottas (@ValtteriBottas) July 29, 2018