Wednesday, 10 october 2018, 06:04 , by Matthew Scott
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff believes Valtteri Bottas may have been impacted mentally by the Silver Arrows enforcing team orders on the Finn to benefit Lewis Hamilton's title challenge. Bottas was ordered aside to let Hamilton win in Russia – despite securing pole position and leading the race.
Bottas remains winless in his second Mercedes season, having had what appeared a likely victory taken away by the team in Sochi.
Hamilton can win his fifth world title in the United States Grand Prix next time out – which could open the door for Bottas to take a win in the remaining three races.
Wolff says Bottas has kept a brave face through the team orders debacle, but expects it to have taken a toll.
"We have to remind ourselves that for a race driver who is channelling all his efforts into winning races and the championship - if you take that ability away from him, it will automatically cause a little bit of a mental setback," he told Autosport.
"He says he hasn't got that, but I believe that will play a little part of it.
"He's a tremendous team player and we cannot re-emphasise that enough.
"To give you an example, after Sochi in the evening we had a discussion, he said: 'I completely understand why you did it and where the team's coming from. If I were in your shoes, I would do exactly the same. I need to outperform Lewis in the beginning of the season, and score more victories, and put myself in a position to fight for the championship. So, don't worry about me.'"