Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 2018

Wolff: Hamilton and Bottas “like Alice in Wonderland” compared to Rosberg era

2018 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Life between Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes is much more harmonious than when Hamilton was partnered by Nico Rosberg, according to team principal Toto Wolff.

But he doesn’t expect Hamilton to hand Bottas a win in return for the victory his team mate gave him at Sochi earlier in the year.

“Lewis is very much out there to win as many races as possible, and championships,” Wolff told Sky. “And no driver wants to give up a race victory. I think Valtteri needs to get it himself and this is how it should pan out.”

However the pair get along much better than Hamilton and Rosberg did, Wolff explained. “This is Alice in Wonderland now compared to what we had before. They are yin and yang.

All the talking happens on the track. There is nothing in the debrief, there is no politics.

“And I’m not saying that in a negative way, every driver has his own way of trying to achieve success. But Valtteri is an absolutely cool Finn. I don’t think that he even realises if something is being manipulated. So it’s a great relationship between the two.”

Wolff agreed Bottas had been ‘handcuffed’ in recent races while the team ensured Hamilton clinched the drivers’ championship.

“I always said these handcuffs existed because Lewis had such an advantage in the championship. We never said they didn’t exit.”

Bottas might have avoided having to play number to for Hamilton had it not been for his puncture in Baku, which put him out of the race and allowed Hamilton to win.

“It would have been 25 more points for Valtteri that one race. I think we [also] would have gotten the constructors’ championship by now.

“He would have been in [with] a shot for the championship. And then obviously it’s very difficult to say ‘you need to drive for the other driver’, that doesn’t go.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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44 comments on “Wolff: Hamilton and Bottas “like Alice in Wonderland” compared to Rosberg era”

  1. Not sure if this is good for Alice.
    Alice needs a challenge to perform at her best.
    And Wolff Rabit should know that if the Alice challenge doesn’t come from the red Queen of Hearts then the challenge needs to come from Alice’s sister.

    1. 10 out of 10 for effort. That’s the best I can give you

  2. It’s all nice and well when there’s nothing at stake between the two. They didn’t get where they are by being friendly to direct rivals anyway, no one at that business did.

    I rather have Rosberg against Lewis. It was nail biting at times between the two. Everything was at stake all the time. It’s great when that happens, it brings the best performance from each… Not always because they get under each other, but the peaks could be higher in my view.

    1. @fer-no65

      Agree. Think about how boring the championship would have been if it was only Bottas and Hamilton fighting for the title.

      Now that I look back at the 2014 to 2016 era… I thought there were some stellar races for the win between Rosberg and Hamilton. I just hope Bottas ups his game and starts showing a more killer instinct next year. Ferrari should give us a fun teammate battle next season and if Mercedes can as well.. Then it’s a possibility for us to get a 2007 style championship where 4 drivers from the top 2 teams are properly battling it out.

  3. I don’t think that he even realises if something is being manipulated. So it’s a great relationship between the two.

    Valtteri doesn’t make waves and we like it that way

    1. @maciek

      Yeah, that comment struck me. He doesn’t even get it? Bottas is a chump? A fool?

      Nah, I’m sure Bottas gets it. He gets that Hamilton is the number 1 driver. He also gets that he couldn’t find a faster car.

      But it does make Wolfe to be a bit of an _____. Insert your own word. There is no reason to assume Bottas is clueless, just that he has enough self control to not antagonize the team. Which is really smart if he can’t beat Hamilton and Ocon is looking for a seat.

      1. There is no reason to assume Bottas is clueless, just that he has enough self control to not antagonize the team. Which is really smart if he can’t beat Hamilton and Ocon is looking for a seat.

        @slotopen – very true, I think that cuts to the heart of the reason why Bottas is so accommodating.

    2. Yeah that was a really eye opening comment.

      1. I think it’s more innocent than it seems and that this is just the austrian/german tendency to miss out certain words. If you read it in toto’s accent it comes across more as if he would’ve intended an ‘even if there was manipulation’

  4. Well VB is best wingman to LH, but never NR. NR has pride and he really challenge for WDC, he not happy about team orders. Thats why LH likes VB more.

  5. The Hamilton Rosberg rivalry took a nasty turn in Monaco 2014 and was aggravated by Spa 2014. From there, there was no turning back. What Rosberg lacked in natural talent he made up for in the off track battle- think of the so called ‘dodgy dossier’ after Ham won from Rosberg in Malaysia 2014 by half a minute in the same car. Think about how HAM used to always use less fuel than Nico while going faster etc. Think of the so called mechanics switch (which Nico allegedly got that advice from his dad).

    Some will say Ham is happy with BOT because more often than not he isn’t on his pace. Maybe there is some truth in that, but I think BOT doesn’t play the political game the same way Nico did. Even if BOT improves and becomes a more consistent challenge- I think it would be tense yes- but not toxic the way it was with Rosberg.

    1. @blazzz that’s also part of the game, isn’t it? the off track relationship between the team and its drivers, and between the two of them. Was it toxic? probably… but even so Hamilton still beat him twice, and Rosberg had to put so much of himself in 2016 that he couldn’t take it anymore after he finally won it. That’s how tough Hamilton was to beat.

    2. Think about how HAM used to always use less fuel than Nico while going faster etc.

      I thought the driver has the ability to adjust the air-fuel ratio? If so, then maybe Hamilton was using a leaner air-fuel mix for some of the race than what Rosberg did.

  6. Safe to say Toto never read Alice in Wonderland.

    1. He did get to meet the Wizard of Oz though.

  7. Translation:
    We, as selfish people, love spineless people, because spineless people don’t object to our selfishness at their expense.

    1. @biggsy – I think on any other day you would get a lot of pushback on this, regardless of it being true. But given that they said it above, albeit in different words, this is a COTD distillation here. Nicely put.

  8. Keep being good little butler to Hammy Mr. Bottas and Mercedes… err….Hamilton will make sure you keep that seat instead of bringing Ocon aboard in 2020.
    After all, Lewis doesn’t want to have a competitive teammate or he may get stressed and crack as he did when ROS beat him.
    And it wasn’t because of an extra engine failure but due to several bad starts and “taking off” some races when he thought he had the WDC in the bag.
    At least Ferrari is bringing in a talent that will put pressure on Vettel.
    What a pathetic dog and pony show F1 is.

    1. instead of bringing Ocon aboard in 2020

      What makes you think Ocon would be much better than BOT though? He is not without his flaws. I’m not convinced he would fare any better particularly given how he has compared against Perez.

  9. “And it wasn’t because of an extra engine failure but due to several bad starts and “taking off” some races when he thought he had the WDC in the bag.”

    No, it was due to the multiple engine issues Hamilton endured, most notably Malaysia. It’s (I had assumed) common knowledge that Lewis was to blame for two of his poor starts (Monza and Suzuka) in 2016. How many bad starts did Nico make that were his fault? Oh yes, two, Germany and Hungary. Any other bad start for either driver was technical in nature.

    And whilst Lewis did have the occasional poor race, Rosberg also endured a disasterous mid-season of his own, dog slow in Monaco, finishing 6th, spinning in Canada, at fault for the Hamilton collision (and penalised) in Austria, reduced to fighting Verstappen in Britain, and taking penalties for his driving in Germany and Malaysia.

    Difference is of course, with his bullet proof car, he could afford his bad races.

    If you’re gonna talk about your preferred dog and pony show, at least do it with a degree of knowledge on the subject. The Mexican result clearly still weighing heavily on you.

    1. @ Gavin
      I do have knowledge. Hamilton is supposedly in a different class than ROS so his HAM’s bad starts come under more scrutiny as they should.
      The last several races of the previous season ROS gained a mental edge by keeping his nose to the grindstones and outperforming HAM. He carried that momentum into the season believing he could beat him.
      Paraphrasing Button who has raced beside both of them. “Alonso is always there even if he shouldn’t be. While Lewis at times loses focus”.

    2. Hamilton blew 7 starts in 2016.

      He moped on the radio in Shanghai basically not giving 100%.

      Crashed in Baku qualifying.

      Made a big mistake in Spain and was lucky to take Rosberg out as well.

      That’s why Rosberg had a 9 win to 6 lead going into the last 4 races.

      That’s why Rosberg won the champiionship. Not one engine failure. Change any one of the 7 blown starts and Hamilton likely wins. But he didn’t. Was good enough in 2016.

      In fact Rosberg had won 12 races to Hamilton’s 6 going back to late 2015 to Suzuka 2016.

      1. Your man there said he lost the title because of bad starts. He made the same number (of his own fault) as Nico, ergo his bad starts didn’t cost him the title. As I said, Hamilton blew 2 starts in 2016, the other issues at the starts were technical issues.

        I didn’t realise moping on the radio cost points, I’ve already pointed out Rosberg lost a lot of his own points mid-season (as HAM did with the Baku crash) and Late 2015 points weren’t added to Rosbergs total. I’ve seen some drivel from you anon but wow.

        To say reliability didn’t play a part is naive in the extreme.

        1. They weren’t technical issues. Hamilton couldn’t get to grips with the manual clutch as quickly as Bottas. It was a recurrent theme for Hamilton.

          Hamilton blew 7 starts in 2016. 7 times he lost significant places at the start while his teammate simply shot ahead to the front. Game, set and match.

          Change any one of those 7 blown starts he’s likely champion. Don’t crash in Baku qualifying he’s likely champion.

          If one engine blow up is the difference between you winning or losing a championship in equal equipment, then you aren’t significantly better than your teammate in any way.

          1. Taken from comments from Mark Hughes in the comment section of this article:
            https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/opinion/f1/top-10-drivers-f1-2016

            “Hi Jackie. To clear it up, no I wasn’t talking of others’ reports. I was referring to my own information from inside the team. The early season poor starts were technical in nature and not down to driver shortfall in any way. All the subsequent ones were the drivers not getting it right – and that’s 2 each. Hamilton at Monza and Suzuka. Rosberg at Hungary and Germany.”

            They were technical issues, making the rest of your post irrelevant. Cheers.

      2. There’s no doubt hamilton could’ve won it had he made less mistakes, but rosberg could’ve made less mistakes as well, in the end the difference was reliability, I’m not only talking about malaysia but it’d be enough already, but also about problems in qualifying.

    3. Loosing a championship is a question of points.. ROS had more points than HAM: result ROS won.
      Yes, its a technical sport and sometimes things break.. ask ROS about that.
      If HAM had his act together he could have won.. he did not.
      the story and the theory’s are getting cold by now..
      End of story.. next..

  10. Wonder if the Wolff has ever actually read Alice in Wonderland.

    Is he as mad as a Hatter or the March Hare?

    “Why is a raven like a writing desk?”

    Or is Rosberg really the Cheshire Cat?

    Welcome to Bandersnatch F1…

    1. Why is a raven like a writing desk?

      ‘Cuz it slopes with a flap

  11. And no driver wants to give up a race victory. I think Valtteri needs to get it himself and this is how it should pan out.

    Really dude? Definition of a hypocrite.

    1. Totally agree, he’s starting to get on my nerves!

    2. Yes, I think that’s an unfair comment by Toto. It was his team orders that made Valtteri let Hamilton by, not Valtteri thinking he’d be nice and let Lewis overtake him.

  12. I don’t know how this line of discussion came up (I’ll assume the interviewer led Toto down a path), but Wolff really should have avoided this topic. All he did was make his entire team look weak. According to Wolff:
    — Hamilton just wants a teammate who doesn’t challenge him and who will give up a race win for him.
    — The team is okay directing one driver to give up a win , but too scared or powerless to direct the other to return the favor. [Aside: 1) If you are not a WDC, wins are some of the only stats that will define your career. 2) As bad as MSC was about wanting to be #1 on the team, even he gave Rubens back his win.]
    — And Bottas is either too calm or naive to care.

    I understand why PR people control talking points to hyperboring levels. Because apparently even senior team management cannot be trusted to hold up half of a discussion without swallowing their foot.

    1. And remember schumacher, just like hamilton, did NOT ask the number 2 driver to let him past, it was a team decision, and both didn’t go against the team, but they could have, they were too important to be fired for disobeying an unnecessary team order, in both cases.

  13. Sure it is, as Rosberg wasn’t a keen to be a slave.

  14. “I don’t think that he even realises if something is being manipulated”

    That’s a pretty telling line from Toto. Rosberg may not have been as good as Lewis, but he ran him pretty close on track and played the psychological and political games very well. Bottas isn’t like that and that’s why he’ll never be a champion with Lewis as teammate. Rosberg upped his game every year until he won by doing anything for an advantage.

  15. Valtteri “Cinderella” Bottas, “Lightning” Lewis McQueen, Sebastian “Buzz Lightyear” Vettel, Kimi “Beast” Raikonnen, Daniel “Simba” Ricciardo, Max “Hercules” Verstappen, Fernando “Gaston” Alonso, Stoffel “Oliver” Vandoorne, Romain “Wall.E” Grosjean, Kevin “Stitch” Magnussen, Pierre “Aladdin” Gasly, Lance “Mickey Mouse” Stroll, Chase “Big Daddy LeBouff” Carey…

  16. For the looks of it, snubbing down Williams is turning out great for Ocon hasn’t it?

  17. Right, until Bottas wins 9 races in a row, then there will be no Harmony. Rosberg while probably nasty to be in the team with, got on with it and did his job to become champion. Bottas is nowhere.

    1. Rosberg had no outside-mercedes competition, much harder for bottas.

  18. I think there is genuine respect for each other.
    And I believe Hamilton will accept if he’s beaten fairly by Bottas.
    What killed the Hamilton – Rosberg relationship, were some things that went on behind the scenes, that Hamilton didn’t appreciate. And I believe Rosberg is well aware that he compromised their friendship.
    Regarding Toto’s comments, sometimes, I believe he says things without realising he’s not giving the the complete explanation thereby causing even more controversy.
    I read it as meaning Bottas is straightforward.

  19. This is even worse than the “great wingman” compliment Toto gave to Bottas. How insulting.

    The only thing Rosberg ever did to Hamilton was stand up to him (and Mercedes).

    If that made Rosberg a bad person then so be it.

    Hamilton was the one who wouldn’t honour agreements to move over for his teammate, Hamilton was the one snubbing Rosberg, Hamilton was the one pushing Rosberg off circuits, Hamilton was the one who made accusations of cheating (Monaco).

    I don’t ever remember Rosberg not getting along with someone until he partnered Hamilton.

    Whereas Hamilton has had many disputes with people throughout his career.

    Without Rosberg from 2014-16, F1 would be taking its dying breath right about now.

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