Sport Wolff denies Bottas has ‘checked out’ from Mercedes

15:30  28 november  2021
15:30  28 november  2021 Source:   planetf1.com

Bottas pictured ‘Toto banging table’ after ‘nightmare’ first lap

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Toto Wolff has denied suggestions that Valtteri Bottas may have “checked out” mentally from Mercedes ahead of his exit from the team.

Valtteri Bottas close-up planetF1 © PA Images Valtteri Bottas close-up planetF1

Bottas’ five-year Mercedes career has only a couple more weeks to run, with two final races in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi before he makes way for George Russell.

And they are not just any old races either. They are the grands prix that will determine the outcome of both World Championships this year, Mercedes being in close competition with Red Bull.

The Finnish driver has won four straight Constructors’ titles with Mercedes and in his quest to exit with a 100% record, they hold a five-point lead with those two races remaining.

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  Mercedes unsure Mercedes is unsure that an “oddball” one-stop Formula 1 strategy in Brazil would have worked despite Valtteri Bottas’s in-race message saying it had thrown away a 1-2 finish.Verstappen made an early second stop after just 13 laps on a set of hard tyres to try and prevent Hamilton from undercutting him, only for Mercedes to respond and allow the seven-time world champion to catch and pass on-track.

Also, with Bottas’ team-mate Lewis Hamilton hunting down Max Verstappen in the Drivers’ Championship, the 32-year-old Alfa Romeo-bound driver has an important part to play in trying to take points away from the Dutchman.

Therefore, the last thing Mercedes need is for Bottas’ mind to be elsewhere and while his performances appear to have improved since his destiny was announced, he is still lacking consistency from weekend to weekend.

One such example was last time out in Qatar where a grid penalty for ignoring yellow flags in qualifying, combined with a poor start to the race, left October’s Turkish Grand Prix winner stuck in the midfield early on whereas Verstappen made rapid progress from just behind him on the grid up to second place.

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Bottas was even given a hurry-up call by Wolff over the team radio while he was stuck behind some of the usual midfield runners.

However, fully aware of Bottas’ importance in the climax to this tense campaign, Mercedes team principal Wolff does not feel the 32-year-old is already focused on his move to Alfa Romeo, where he has been given what he wanted – a multi-year contract.

“I don’t think he’s checked out,” Wolff told Channel 4. “I think he was brilliant in Turkey. We just need to have him in clean air.

“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.”

While Bottas eventually made progress in Qatar to have a sniff of a podium finish, that hope evaporated when he suffered a puncture and he was eventually brought in to retire the car when all chance of points had gone.

Reports have speculated that was due to concerns about Bottas’ power unit and that the engine he uses in Saudi Arabia will be mapped similarly to the one Hamilton used at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, where car and driver produced a dominant performance.

The hope for Mercedes would be that Bottas can push Verstappen down to finish third at best in Jeddah with Hamilton winning the race, which would put the Briton ahead going into the Abu Dhabi conclusion in his search for a record-breaking eighth Drivers’ title.

Toto Wolff: Red Bull had in qualifying "a dominant package" .
© Motorsport Images Toto Wolff had after qualifying in Saudi Arabia all reason to joy unexpectedly comes often - or sometimes, depending on. This pole position in Formula 1 qualifying in Saudi Arabia was at least that for Mercedes: unexpected. After all, everything looked after a fabile round of max stages, but in the last curve, the Dutch threw the first starting place away with its own mistake.

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