Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2019

‘New Bottas’ reminds Wolff of 2008 Bottas

2019 Australian Grand Prix

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says Valtteri Bottas’s emphatic win in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix recalled a championship triumph from much earlier in his career.

Wolff described how he first came to meet Bottas in 2008, who went on to win a closely-fought championship battle with future F1 rival Daniel Ricciardo by just three points.

“I got a call from a young boy [who] asked for a meeting,” said Wolff after Bottas’s win on Sunday. “It was a snowy day in Vienna and this young Finnish boy came in with a pullover, no jacket, and asked for advice.

“That young boy went on to dominate the Formula Renault Eurocup in a strong year with [Jean-Eric] Vergne, Ricciardo, [Roberto] Merhi. And he also lapped the whole field.

“This is the Valtteri Bottas I have seen yesterday and today. And it was in him and I think that maybe these years at Williams and the shock draft into Mercedes was something that he needed to digest. And he went off tired at the end of the season and the 2008 young man came back. And obviously I’m very happy and he deserves it.”

Wolff described Bottas’s recovery from his disappointing 2018 campaign as being like a “fairytale”.

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2019
Bottas won by over 20 seconds
“Since I started to work with drivers 15 years ago I tried to comprehend what’s going on in their brains. And I don’t.

“How he recovered from being written off, ‘not up for the job’, in the second half of the season last year, to scoring one of the most dominant victories that we’ve seen in recent years, just shows us the human potential and how much it is a mind game.

“It’s for me also a bit of a fairytale: Don’t let others break you, believe in yourself. He’s just shown us the whole weekend. There wasn’t one single session when he wasn’t good enough.”

Bottas came back from the off-season reinvigorated, having kept his skills sharp by competing in the Arctic Lapland Rally.

“When he left after the Christmas party he said he was tired and he needed to recover because it was the most shitty half-season he’s ever had,” said Wolff. “And he came back end of January and said: ‘I’m back’.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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  • 38 comments on “‘New Bottas’ reminds Wolff of 2008 Bottas”

    1. I know the Socchi switch must have seemed harsh on Bottas. It did make sense from a team perspective, though. Yet it seemed to plunge him into a spiral of self-doubt and maybe suppressed anger, compounded too, maybe, by the bad luck earlier in the season that had left him out of the championship battle and left him vulnerable to team orders. Whatever rearranging he did in his head over winter, the new steely Bottas is great. Still a fair driver, I’m sure, but the way he went past at the start and drove to an emphatic finish was fantastic to see. I agree with Wolff, it just felt good to see someone beat their own inner demons and discover the inner strength that obviously got him into F1 in the first place. Look forward to a season full of the same.

      1. I agree with that first line, but still disagree with the second @david-br. First of all, the title at that point was not really that close anymore, both Ferrari and Vettel had been dropping off already, so there was not that pressing need to get an extra 7 points at all. It just increased the already growing gap. Also helped by Ferrari giving much the same treatment to Kimi – we can see that he also is more motivated this year, because the team wants him to achieve.

        But more importantly, it didn’t help the team at all, because it really rattled one side of the garage and had a pretty detrimental effect on their overally results. Had Bottas won that race, they might have had two cars in the mix until the end of the year to take away points from Vettel.

        I do agree that it is really great to see Bottas has “refound” himself and has had a good start. I hope he can maintain that.

        1. @bascb Actually I think it was unnecessary too, I just mean there was a logic, albeit at the level of Wolff’s almost obsessive degree of micro-management worry (‘what if we lose the championship by those few points?’). I was disappointed Hamilton didn’t go with his instinct and return the position at the end of the race as he should have done. He couldn’t very well have not passed Bottas, as the latter slowed down for him and Vettel was near, but he could very easily have given back first place at the end of the race.

          1. Rigth, yeah, I get what you say there, I feel pretty similar about the whole thing @david-br

    2. I was one of those who thought Mercedes had blundered by retaining Bottas for this year (especially in light of Ferrari signing LeClerc).

      Bottas’ performance and attitude last weekend have emphatically proven me wrong. I wish that he continues the same way through the season, and kudos to him for bouncing back in such a stellar manner.

      1. Bottas’ performance and attitude last weekend have emphatically proven me wrong.

        Don’t rush it @phylyp
        As they used to say back in 2008 (or earlier) “One swallow does not a summer make, nor one fine day; similarly one day or brief time of happiness does not make a person entirely happy.”

        1. I agree, plus would guess Hamilton is relishing the thought of crushing Bottas after getting beaten.

        2. 2008? Sounds more like 1908. Oscar Wilde eat your heart out.

    3. I’m not sure it’s such a good idea to be lauding him as much as they are after one race.

      Because…..if it all goes downhill from here…..won’t it be all the more humiliating? If this new reinvigorated Bottas gets beaten just as easily, then it will hardly look good.

      I’m not saying I hope he does not continue this form. I really would enjoy another inter-team battle if Ferrari can’t step up to the plate.

      But, manage expectations!

      Don’t call it a fairly tale turn around when we have only just written the first page!!!!!

      1. As Qeki pointed out about Fisichella coming in in 5th in ’05 when Alonso won the title, Bottas came in 5th last year while Hamilton won the driver’s championship and basically single-handedly earned Mercedes the constructor’s championship. Mercedes doesn’t want to repeat that!

      2. Well, I think if the “issue” with Bottas underperforming in the second half of the season was mostly because he was forced to be no2, and the team didn’t give him the room to drive as he wanted, then having his team boss making very clear that he is impressed and happy to see Bottas doing as well as he did in Australia could actually be one of the things that help maintain that good mood for his driver @mach1, @schooner, @pastaman

        1. by the time bottas was made number 2 driver he was way behind already in the championship
          and Ferrari were a real threat.

      3. If someone really wants to win, and has that absolute mindset, then “managing expectations” means using a victory to fuel more victories.
        Now is not when Bottas needs to prepare for failure. It is now that he must prepare for victory.

    4. His performance during the race was pretty much like looking at a different Bottas. He pulled away, setting fastest lap after fastest lap and nobody else looked like they were even close to him – proper class of his own. That kind of dominance and strength I’m used to seeing from Hamilton, or Vettel or Verstappen – not from Bottas. That’s highly refreshing and after last year’s disappointment, the questions of his ability, whether he was to be replaced, the fairytale of seeing him come back and blow everyone away quite so emphatically was fantastic.

      That said whether he can retain this form over the whole season remains to be seen. I hope he does, and if he can he’s got to be considered a genuine title threat. Perhaps all he needed was a kick in his complacency.

      1. You are ignoring the fact Hamilton lost a vital section of his rear left floor around lap 4 losing the rear left flap and edge that controls the airflow to the diffuser and sends air away from the rear left tyre. Until that point Hamilton was staying close behind Bottas.

        I’m really surprised that there hasn’t been any article on here about it considering autosport have already posted an article with detailed pictures of the damage..

        1. I can’t see the part he lost would account for a +20 deficit to Bottas, nor do I think that even if Hamilton’s car was undamaged that he’d have been able to overhaul him. Bottas drove excellently and he did a great job – a brilliant job and maximised everything out of his result and that deserves celebrating, not excusing.

          1. You don’t believe that damage could cause a tire saving Hamilton to trail by +20 seconds?

            I do.

            I don’t believe in equal machinery Anyone would be capable of pulling off such a gap on Lewis.

            1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
              19th March 2019, 8:10

              Bottas did the year before last year in russia…

              Given that Hamilton said himself that Bottas had better pace than him even before the problem, it is very unliely that the main reason the gap was this big was because of the damage. Will have had some input, but won’t be all of the 20 seconds.

    5. It’s great to see Bottas at this level challenging Hamilton. But I just hope things don’t go as they went in 2005 when Fisico won the first race but ended up 5th in the championship standings when Alonso became the champion in the same car. Bottas just need to keep the momentum throughout the season and he will do the “Rosbergs.”

      1. My thoughts exactly!

        When Fisichella won in dominant fashion in Oz 2005, many people (including myself) heralded it as a sign of great things to come: finally after, years of toiling around in mid/bottom-field cars he finally had one to match his talent……. Then he crashed into Webber the next race and over the course of the next 18 races hardly made the podium; instead it was his team-mate (Alonso) who carried the momentum to fight for and eventually win the championship — securing 7 races along the way.

        When Rosberg won in Australia in 2016, it rather served as proof that his hat-trick of wins during the last 3 races of 2015 were no coincidences; that we were indeed witnessing Nico leveling up (no less emphasized by him pushing Hamilton wide at turn 1 to create space for himself, after both Mercedes made bad starts). Although his momentum went through ups-and-downs as 2016 wore on, he held it together enough to nick the title.

        We won’t know until after the next few races if Bottas’ season will be similar to that of Fisichella’s in 2005 or Rosberg’s title winning year in 2016. If during that time-frame he finishes in front of or right next to Hamilton (if the 5-time champ finishes ahead), then we’ll know his new “**** you” mindset is probably legit (enough to carry him for a season long title fight); if not, then it’s likely just all talk.

    6. All this talk about how this is a new Bottas is just talk, I want to see him beat Hamilton on a regular basis before I’ll believe that he can become WDC.

    7. For me its clear that 2 experienced drivers whatever they age is, its always better than 2 youngsters with talent but no experience. The model of the f1 is changing to the second, but its a complete error, and we’ll see this season. Some teams bet on 2 youngsters with 0 experience, others in 2 with lots of experience. 1 team is the winner of the last 6 years, who bet on experience (same model as Schumacher-Barrichello), (Vettel and Webber)… If something works, why are you goign to change it? Other teams decided is better to promote youngsters (Stroll-Sirotkin disaster for Williams), (Rusell and Kubica, disaster for Williams), Redbull (Verstappen and Gasly (forced)), McLaren (Norris and Sainz, we will see…), Ferrari (Vettel and Leclerc, we will see).

      1. (Rusell and Kubica, disaster for Williams)

        This has absolutely nothing to do with the drivers though.

    8. What if he would have been 2nd after the 1st corner?

      1. Honestly? I think he’d have burned his tires up trying to do 43 laps on one set, and finished 3rd behind Verstappen (assuming Mercedes pitted Bottas to cover Vettel).

        1. I think it shows the importance of being the leader in the race. If y u start from pole and lead the race you run in clean air and don’t ruin your tyres. Lewis’ blistering pace in quali usually means he has this advantage in the race. I honestly think race pace these days is less about ability as all the drivers are driving well within themselves

        2. …and nobody would read about the Bottas of 2008.

          I mean, he did well, but he was lucky that circumstances allowed him to shine.

    9. I’ve always been a fan of Bottas since I saw him win the Marlboro masters twice in a row in Zandvoort.

      Still, he clearly is not on the same level as Hamilton. Especially when the car is a bit more difficult to drive. He admitted as much himself.

      Besides, if the roles were reversed and Hamilton was first through turn 1 and Bottas was pitted first to cover Vettel’s early stop, then Hamilton would have won the race with the same ease as Bottas did now.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        18th March 2019, 21:19

        You can’t really confirm hamilton would have won the race as comfortably as Bottas. As Bottas looked so comfortable and was consistently setting fastest laps out of everyone there. With the amount of pace he had, he would have almoast certainly caught right up to hamilton.

        1. I reckon if Hamilton had of won the race (Been in front), he would never want to put out a gap like that, knowing saving engine life is a high priority. Bottas was just in the zone for the race and good on him!

    10. I’m not convinced by just one race. The Mercedes car was really dominating on this track. And he had a much better start than Lewis. So he only had to drive the fastest car in free air all race.

      But hey, props for him are deserved!! Maybe I’m wrong and he’s more than a reasonable F1 driver without a killer instinct

    11. whoever leads the race will have the best chance to win the race. We have seen it with the example of Rosberg/Hamilton era. I guess that’s the reason why Senna/Prost agreed to the first corner rule, not qualification position.

    12. I’d say that Totos next sentence sumarizes it all: “…just shows us the human potential and how much it is a mind game.” There is so much about mind games in this sport and driver feeling comfortable or not within the team. Regardless of the driver or the team we’re referring. There is so much on the edge that having a clear, composed mind is essential to succeed. I hope that Toto will be fair this year and play it in favor of both drivers equally, ’cause they’re going to dominate as the team. I don’t think of the season of 1988. as a boring one. I don’t think that this one should be boring even if Mercedes wins every single race of the season as long as both drivers have the same treatment regarding mind games. And of course, can fight each other fairly. Although I appreciate Lewis as the one of the best drivers ever I’m convinced that giving Valtteri a go at the title is in the best interest of Mercedes team.

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