Bottas wingman role had 'negative impact' - Wolff

Sunday, 09 december 2018, 10:36 , by Matthew Scott

Toto Wolff has admitted his decision to relegate Valtteri Bottas to a support role in Lewis Hamilton's bid for a fifth world title had a "negative impact" on Mercedes' Finnish driver. Bottas was sacrificed in several races to aid Hamilton and had victory in Russia taken away from him to give Hamilton a boost.

Bottas' strategies in races like Hungary and Italy disrupted Ferrari to boost his team-mate, but the lowest moment arrived in Russia, where the Finn had qualified on pole and led the race until he was ordered to let Hamilton through to win.

After securing three wins in a solid debut season with the Silver Arrows, Bottas failed to make it to the top step of the podium at all in 2018, despite Mercedes taking a fifth constructors' title in a row.

Bottas saw possible wins slip through his fingers in China and Azerbaijan in the early months of the campaign and Wolff says his driver performed better than is likely to be remembered.

"I think he performed at a higher level in the first half of the season and that is reflected by the points," said Wolff. "He would have been leading the championship after Baku.

"The moment you take away the ability to win the championship for a driver that is so focused on becoming a world champion, if he is in a Mercedes, that has a negative impact.

"It has also impacted Valtteri even though he says 'no, I'm fine'. This is a fighter and I'm sure that this is a big blow that you have to mentally digest.

"He has not let this negatively affect the team. But I think he needs some time off now to recharge the batteries and come back again for another championship next year."

MORE: Bottas sure 2018 better than 2017 despite no wins
MORE: 'Bottas' season broken by Baku heartbreak'

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Comments (11)

  • Steven Miller
    It was quite rough on him, but as Wolff rightly said at the time: "I'd rather be the villain today than an idiot at the end of the season." Ferrari did enter a two race mini-slump at that time, but for all Mercedes knew they could have emerged at any moment and gone on a tear, while Lewis may have suffered a string of terrible luck. Valtteri got his chance up to Hockenheim, the poor sod was jinxed on several occasions but a silver horse had to be backed from then onwards and correctly, they chose Lewis.
  • John Chant
    He’s not fast enough in races or qualy is fair game for the championship until it’s obvious he can’t win kimi is the same at Ferrari he’s not quick enough and poor In qualy. Five world championships are not given to anyone they are earned. Bottas is not in the same league as Lewis
  • Bryan Falcon
    That 7 additional points in Russia didn’t matter anyway since Vettel screwed himself over with his desperate overtaking moves, Ferrari adding salt to their own wounds by screwing up their pit stops strategies and Hamilton winning by a comfortable 88 points gap in the end.
  • Jitu Sharma
    I have not considered Hamiltions championship.. Bottas was the real hero behind Lewis success.. shame bottas was never motivated by toto.. Merc need to get their sportsmanship right
  • Stuart Williamson
    Nobody too blame exept himself. You were not fast enough too be considered a title contender. Simple really. If u dont wanna be a wingman then step up
  • Mark Mann
    With one year left on his contract, I hope he ignores all team orders and let's her rip in 2019.
  • Marjorie Brassart
    Why would he apologize for something he's more likely gonna do again next season?
  • Daniel Cheong
    I still like Rubens to this date..
  • Jody Harrison
    You don't say~
  • Chris Harris
    Bottas. Door mat at Merc.

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