Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Sochi Autodrom, 2018

Wolff wants Bottas to end win drought in Abu Dhabi

2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says he is especially keen to see Valtteri Bottas score his first win of the season in this weekend’s season finale at Yas Marina.

Bottas hasn’t taken a win since his victory in this race last year. Lewis Hamilton scored all 10 of the team’s victories this season on his way to winning the drivers’ championship.

Mercedes clinched the constructors’ title at the last race in Brazil. “The championship pressure is off so we can look at this as one race where we can really go for broke,” said Wolff.

“Our Silver Arrow has won 10 races so far this season and we all want to add one more to that score – especially Valtteri, who has lost out on wins this season through bad luck and team orders.”

Bottas had to forfeit a likely victory in the Russian Grand Prix to help Hamilton in the drivers’ championship. Hamilton has said he doesn’t believe his team mate wants to be handed a win in return.

If Bottas fails to win a race this weekend he will be the first driver to complete a full season in a Mercedes without taking a victory since Michael Schumacher in 2012.

Wolff believes the progress the team has made with its low-speed cornering performance will put them in good shape at Yas Marina. However he expects “a tough battle because both Red Bull and Ferrari will have the same target of taking good momentum into the winter.

“We have taken four wins in a row at Yas Marina, although it’s a track with a lot of slow and medium speed corners. We’ve made some good steps forward when it comes to our car’s performance on similar tracks, so we’re confident that we can perform strongly in Abu Dhabi as well, and end this incredible 2018 season on a high.”

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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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33 comments on “Wolff wants Bottas to end win drought in Abu Dhabi”

  1. Toto is the perfect person to make this happen :P

    1. @coldfly – you misspelt Ocon ;-)

      1. Enough about Bottas trying to win a race. He’s extremely lucky just to be in a decent car. Had Rosberg not suddenly retired Bottas would be in a Williams fighting with Stroll for 19th place.

        1. Ghastly thought… ;-)

        2. Bottas is a massa level driver and even without mercedes would be in at least a decent midfield car, hell, even massa had a shot at the title.

          1. Again, Bottas is lucky to be in a decent car. Had Rosberg not suddenly retired Bottas would be in a Williams, or maybe a slightly better car this year. Where else would he have got a drive? And Massa, like Bottas, was a solid wing-man, not a WDC driver. He was lucky to come within a point of being champion, but only once in his long career.

  2. There’s one (unsympathetic) part of me that doesn’t want Bottas to win this weekend, either on merit or via a gift. It should just underscore for Bottas how he needs to fight his corner, and not be a pushover at Mercedes irrespective of the threat of Ocon being dangled over his head.

    If he needs to advertise himself to other teams (assuming Merc tire of him), then he needs to show it. I’m not asking for a return to the days of the Hamilton-Rosberg antagonism, but just a bit more spirit from him.

    1. a return to the days of the Hamilton-Rosberg antagonism

      I do, I miss Nico

      1. Me too. I’m not enthralled with hand-holding between two drivers on a top team. And for VB to actually challenge LH would mean the gloves would have to come off and the lovey dovey would have to be set aside. Here’s hoping VB can do better next year, but he has to do so right off the bat or team orders will soon ensue, especially if it is looking again like SV is going to grab big points too. I’ll not be holding my breath for a proper VB/LH rivalry.

    2. We are missing fierce competition for driver championship after 2016.
      As much as we’ve seen the competitiveness of Ferrari challenging for championship, fact is year 2017 and 2018 Hamilton has won with such a huge point margin! We definitely missed Rosberg. Imagine it should be Hamilton vs Vettel + Rosberg, things would be much interesting…

  3. If he doesn’t win it will be one of the rare occasions when a driver* of the WCC winning team has gone win-less. I checked from 1990 onwards and it had occurred just thrice before – 1990 (Berger), 2001 (Barrichello), 2013 (Webber).
    *1994 is a curious case here. The WCC winning team (Williams) used 4 drivers across the season and 2 of them won races but the other 2 didn’t win. As more than 1 driver won, I am not counting it in the list.

    1. 2013 is particularly bad, as Webber was completely meaningless in the WCC. Vettel’s points alone would have been enough!

  4. Put simply, Bottas hasn’t been good enough this year. He was unlucky in Azerbaijan and then the team orders came in Russia, but the score is 10-0 in wins against Hamilton (factoring Russia in, even 9-1 is very poor) and 16-8 with regards to podiums. The fact that Verstappen is so close to jumping him in the Championship should be a huge wake up call for him and the team.

    Sure, sometimes he’s been unlucky, but too often he’s been miles off Hamilton’s pace. If I was Toto Wolff, I think I’d actually put Ocon in the car for 2019. If the Ferrari is a smidge better next year, Mercedes will not find winning a sixth WCC in a row so straightforward.

    1. I am just curious as to why yourself, and some people for that matter, are so convinced that Ocon would do a better job. Ocon is crash prone and so far Perez has been getting the better of him as team mates. Perez I consider a very good driver given he outdid Hulk and also wasn’t far off Button as well. So again, I ask, what makes you think Ocon would be doing a better job than Bottas?

      1. A fair question, @blazzz. Ocon wouldn’t necessarily be my choice (if I had my pick of the grid), but it’s clear to most that Mercedes see him as the alternative to Bottas. To that end, I think Bottas’ performance this year has been sufficiently poor to warrant a gamble on Ocon being better. He’s a Mercedes junior who has done his time in a junior team and, in my opinion, compared favourably to Perez, who I rate quite highly.

        I see no reason to suggest that he would be doing worse than Bottas; which makes it the prime time to make the junior set-up they have worth something. “Come to us and if you’re good enough, you’ll be in the best car in Formula One.” Instead, they have a not-currently-good-enough Bottas filling the seat, while their two hottest young talents (Ocon and Wehrlein) have fallen out of the sport for 2019.

        1. Problem is Ocon has a ego and Bottas not.
          So Bottas is the ideal wing man and accepts team orders as if it were snacks.. Ocon on the other hand is already fighting is own teammate in a way the team needed serious measures to keep him/them under control.
          Not sure if Ocon/Hamilton is a good idea.

        2. @ben-n

          +1, well argued. I don’t have anything to dispute except play the devil’s advocate- would Toto, given his frank admission of the headaches of managing HAM/ROS be willing to risk Ocon, if there is no guarantee that he would perform any better? Why end up with the same result, but make it considerably more difficult for yourself? Personally I much rather prefer it when drivers are pushed by their team mates- because that way, as a spectator, the sport becomes more interesting despite who one supports.

  5. “I want our resident wingman to win the least meaningful race of the season.”

    Maybe, if he’s lucky, he’ll be presented with a new F1 logo like last year.

    In all seriousness, I don’t care who wins if the race is somewhat interesting.

    1. @fer-no65

      It would be interesting if Hamilton tried to bunch up the field, like in 2016, to protect Bottas or give him a clean stop. Not holding my breath.

      I’m guessing @carlosmedrano is right about Red Bull going strong. Would be nice to see Riciardo mix it up at the front in his last rodeo.

  6. Bottas isn’t hamilton, who can score a win out of nowhere even when the car is not there at all.

    If Mercedes isnt considerably better i don’t see him winning this race even if they give him priority to it. Better to let Hamilton win it than Ferrari or Red Bull.

    His win should have been on Russia. Now they feel they have to give him one but they are not sure it they can make it happen because we are not in 2016 anymore.

  7. Better to be a wingman in Mercedes than the lead driver in Williams right now.

    1. Taking it to the next level, imo, better being a wingman in red bull than the lead driver in renault, and ricciardo wasn’t a wingman, they simply were considering verstappen their biggest chance for title.

  8. Personally, I feel like Toto has damaged Bottas’ motivation and spirit since the Hungarian GP by telling him to hold back the two Ferrari’s while Hamilton disappeared into the distance. The guy was on par (maybe slightly slower, but way better than his current form) with Hamilton until then. I feel like this is more Toto’s fault than Bottas’ fault. Don’t get me wrong, Bottas has also been way “too nice” to his team and teammate. It would be embarrassing for him to finish behind Max in the championship especially given that his teammate won the championship in the exact same car.

    1. Not so embarassing, too much unluck for us to call it that way, baku, russia, austria, china.

  9. Merc and Ferrari stoped developing their cars and are now focusing on next year so red bull will probably be quickest

  10. It really does show how good Rosberg was to challenge Lewis the way he did. Unfortunately Bottas is not a Lewis or Nico

    1. One difference was that from 2014 – 2016, there were not really any other cars to get in the way of them fighting. We will likely have seen far more fighting between them if Mercedes were having a dominant year. Plus the cars seem to really struggle following others over the last couple of years. Much more than before then anyway. I do think Rosberg is better than Bottas, but there are just too many differences now to make a fair comparison. Also, Rosberg had been with Mercedes since 2010. While Bottas hasn’t been there for 2 full seasons yet. Rosberg had a massive advantage over him. And now it is Hamilton who’s got a whole load more experience than Bottas. I still think Bottas’s start to the season hasn’t been appreciated enough by many. I do however think Bottas’s biggest weakness is how much bad luck effects his later performances. He soon started to have a few races that didn’t as good as the ones closer to the start of the season. More recently, I think team orders and strategy to try to help Hamilton have actually made Bottas loose several places in some races recently.

  11. I think this is Toto’s way of letting us know Lewis’ mechanics are skipping to the other side,or Lewis will have engine failure.

    1. Ahah, good one!

  12. it seems likely that Hamilton will have a new internal combustion unit at this race and so be down the grid, giving Bottas a chance to win without chicanery. But it will be fun seeing Hamilton do one of his hustling through the field races.

    What happens if he eventually gets behind Bottas if Bottas is in the lead?

    1. That’s funny, you think Ferrari and Red Bull does not participate this final race of the year? Chances are Hamilton would be held up behind one of these.

  13. Ahahaha! I’m buying extra popcorn to hear that from Toto to Lewis: “I think we need to speak after this race!”

  14. Merc will give the win to Botas .
    A thank you for being the #2 driver he is for them.

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