Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Hockenheimring, 2019

Wolff: Bottas should’ve taken 18 points out of Hamilton

2019 German Grand Prix

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Valtteri Bottas should have finished second and significantly cut his team mate’s championship lead in Germany, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said after the German Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver crashed out of the race at turn one with seven laps to go. He had been stuck behind Lance Stroll at the time, but would have taken second place if he’d been able to pass the Racing Point.

With Lewis Hamilton running out of the points at the time, Bottas stood to drastically reduce the 39-point lead his team mate had in the championship before the race began.

“In his championship battle he could have scored a decent amount of points to catch up to Lewis,” Wolff admitted. “Whether it was 12, 15 or 18 points… I think it should have been 18 points.

“That would have been a jump and it didn’t happen. But we are mid-term, lots more points to score. Obviously here he had a good chance today to recover.”

Wolff has no doubt his driver will be able to recover from the blow of losing out to his team mate.

“I think when you race in Formula 1 you can feel the pain of days like these and beat yourself up a bit. But you need to recover. If you want to be a race winner and a championship winner you need to come back strong even from these very lows. And Valtteri has shown in the past that he was able to do that.”

How is the ‘silly season’ shaping up? Read @DieterRencken’s take on the 2020 F1 driver market in his new RacingLines column today on RaceFans

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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...
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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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  • 42 comments on “Wolff: Bottas should’ve taken 18 points out of Hamilton”

    1. How is the ‘silly season’ shaping up? Read @DieterRencken’s take on the 2020 F1 driver market in his new RacingLines column today on RaceFans

      I’m sensing a theme emerge here – this teaser is showing up for any article about an “at risk” driver.

      So, where’s the news article about Haas? :)

      1. I think it’s Ferrari.

    2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      31st July 2019, 8:28

      In a way, I don’t think it looks quite as bad a weekend for Bottas given the number of retirements and near misses this weekend. The majority of drivers nearly lost it at some point in the race and the outcome of his slight mistake was rather unfortunate. Hamilton got away with pretty much the same mistake as well as many others and overall didn’t look any better really.

      I think Bottas will have looked far worse to Mercedes if he was one of the few to make a costly mistake.

      I personally doubt the driver line up will change for next year. I’ve seen some say Mercedes are looking closely at Bottas over these 2 races including this one gone by before decideing. But it would be a bit silly to base everything on his only retiement he’s been at fault for in his entire f1 career. He’s never even been deemed responsible for anyone elses ovr this time. The majority of the time, he does a solid job for what the team need. If the team look back to the start of the season, Bottas has 2 wins and the team would have had 8 1 – 2 finishes had it not been or Verstappen giving Bottas a puncture in Monaco.

      Looking at how well Mercedes have done overall even including this last race, I can’t see the point of risking a new driver to replace Bottas yet.

      1. @thegianthogweed – I think it will come down to what Mercedes want to do with their second seat.

        a) Does Mercedes want a #2 driver to be Hamilton’s rear-gunner? If so, then Bottas is perfect.
        b) Does Mercedes want to groom their next talent for their next decade of racing? If so, then Bottas needs replacing.
        c) Does Mercedes want that ideal person who starts off being a #2 but then becomes their champion? At the level of F1, those goals are almost contradictory, with few likely to fit the bill.

        I don’t know what their priority is, because as of now, we don’t know if Mercedes intend to continue in F1 until 2025, 2030, or beyond.

        I know Ocon’s name crops up as a potential Bottas replacement. However, I don’t see him having the temperament to be a reliable #2, we’d have a Rosberg-Hamilton situation on our hands.

        I see Russell as a strong contender, for any of the 3 roles listed above. After seeing this video I realize that Russell is quite the complete package – a good driver (in F2), smart, and an amazing temperament. I had lost my temper at his race engineer quite quickly into the clip, he did not. I was driving a couch indoors, he was not.

        I think the priority for Mercedes should be to get Russell out of the Williams quagmire. I don’t think they have a place for him at Racing Point (seeing as both the drivers bring in healthy sponsorship), so why not get him familiar with the actual Mercedes environment. Given their age difference, it wouldn’t be seen as a threat to Hamilton, and Russell seems like he’d be happy to “play nice”, and yet step up to the plate if Hamilton falters.

        1. I think the description of the goals and options are quite good and they aren’t any other really.
          It looks like Williams is Mercedes Toro Rosso right now and Kubica has been quite poor this season which put a question mark about Russell. He has been driving and behaving well, but difficult to know how well. My preference is still for Mercedes to keep Bottas one more year and have a driver battle at Williams to find the successor to Bottas, risk is low, reward is good. Mercedes can still bring both championship home with Hamilton and Bottas, Mercedes can test 2 drivers matched against each other in reaching condition (I am still not convinced Ocon has the right behavior for Mercedes), and Williams improve their driver line up (depending on the type of competition between the drivers, it could push the whole team upwards as they will have a real will to succeed).

          On the driver options, everyone mention the fight between Ocon and Russell but I wouldn’t write off Vandoorne completely. He was very promising in lower formula, was in a team focused on Alonso but it’s now Mercedes simulation driver and did quite well in formula E with what he had.

          1. Lest we forget, Bottas’ 1 year extension which sees him driving in 2019 was only given to him by Mercedes AFTER Toto Wolff thought he had secured Ocon a seat at Renault. This was the main reason behind TW’s anger at Renault then taking on Danny Ric instead of Ocon.

            If TW knew that the Renault seat wasn’t going to be available at the time, we would be seeing Ocon in a Merc already.

          2. Minus the Vandoorne comments…I am in total agreement. Its best they keep Bottas for another year and take on Russell probably at a later date. He is young…isn’t going anywhere and has a great attidude. Regardless of the fact we haven’t seen him wheel-2-wheel racing they have the data to vet and he has shown skills in lower formulas so that isn’t really in question.

        2. @phylyp Thanks for the link to footage on something that happened out of the world feed frame, let’s put it this way (wasn’t broadcasted, neither the pass nor the radio conversation). Takes some guts to disobey engineer’s instructions as a 21-year old rookie as one put it below the video. Not the same precise wording, but along similar lines.

          1. @jerejj – you’re welcome. This happened at the start of the SC period, so in their defence, the broadcast director would have been focused on the scene of the accident and the action in the pit stops. This clip was taken off the car’s dedicated onboard feed.

            And, in what might be a peek behind the curtains at what ails the Williams team, here’s a clip of Kubica at Baku, and his woes with his own race engineer:

            I have previously wondered why Kubica was critical earlier this year and thought he should tone it down. After seeing these clips, I can only admire his and Russell’s restraint. And if anyone wonders why Williams isn’t racing the midfield, it is likely because their drivers are fighting both the cars and their engineers.

            Claire does a good job of sugarcoating things with her “rah rah” motivational answers to the press, but if this is how their race engineers are, I only wonder if the rest of the team isn’t far behind.

      2. I don’t think it looks quite as bad a weekend for Bottas

        Disagree, @thegianthogweed, and I disagree with Wolff as well.
        It is not the 18 points he should have taken off of Hamilton’s lead (why not 19?, aiming low?), but it is the 26 points Verstappen ate away at his lead. I can’t see Bottas fighting for the lead even if he reduced the gap by 18 points now and with a future Hamilton Retirement.
        But how embarrassing will it be if Verstappen beats Bottas in the WDC standing (again) when Mercedes has been so dominant this year?

        1. Well spotted. Well stated.

    3. So why didnt Lewis take 25 points?
      Looks like unfortunately Bottas is a scapegoat and he will be dropped by this team at the end of year.

      1. I suspect you’re right. They’ve been giving Valtteri one year contracts for a few years now. Initially I thought it was so they could get Daniel Ricciardo, but that didn’t happen. Maybe the way they treated him was understandable for a driver of Ricciardo’s calibre, but after snubbing Daniel? … So let’s just say I won’t be surprised if they don’t renew Valtteri’s contract.

        1. + 1
          @chaitanya @drycrust
          Exactly. And the over dramatization/body language, (head in hands,) from Toto on camera, when Valtteri binned it, was to make sure that there will be no surprises when they flick him. I just hope that RIC is the replacement. :-0 ( non performance clause)

          1. Resume attached ( I hope)

          2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
            31st July 2019, 13:30

            I don’t think the look on toto’s face was all to do with Bottas. Keep in mind that the other driver in his team had badly messed his own race up already. I don’t thnk he will have looked as frustraited had Bottas spun with Hamilton still on good form.

            1. I don’t think the look on toto’s face was all to do with Bottas

              @thegianthogweed – I agree. IMHO, I think that was more to do with the gent standing behind him: Ola Källenius. Both drivers embarrassing you in front of your new boss at what was meant to be a company celebrating 125 years? Yeah, I’d thump a table with a thunderous expression as well.

    4. Hello to Russell in 2020 then?
      Leclerc, Verstappen and Russell driving the top cars. Good stuff, it will be

      1. Master Yoda?!

        1. Correctly identified him, you have.

      2. Id rather see Ocon

      3. If lec will be in the Ferrari next year he has to learn very quickly now.
        His mistakes are continuing and that’s not the ferfarri way.

        1. “…that’s not the ferfarri way…” – so why is Vettel still on their books?

          1. Contract with a four times WC.

    5. The way I read it, Wolff is letting Bottas know that he may now be getting closer to team orders to secure the drivers championship, as he is more than a win and a third place behind.
      I don’t see it as criticizing but just acknowledging how difficult it will be for the team to not favour one driver.

      1. Yes, I think a lot is riding on the next race for Bottas. If he drops further back from Hamilton; and either Seb or Max close on him, then team orders have got to be on the table. Mercedes saving grace might be that there is every chance that Max and Seb will go through the rest of the season taking points off each other. And obviously Leclerc taking points of everyone else.
        Interesting season. Five drivers all capable of beating each other and winning races in the machinery they have under them.
        Loads of different scenarios going forward; and it could be a case of the four of them never challenging Ham as they are too busy fighting amongst themselves.

    6. Sorry, Russell is yet to prove himself. Not his fault but the fact is he’s yet to have a turn in a competitive car so to me people like Norris & Ocon have a much better chance.

      Personally I can’t see Bottas being replaced. He’s doing the job at Mercedes and while Hamilton is going as well as he is (and while Bottas continues to pressure him) they don’t need any change.

      What Mercedes need to do is make sure both their “young drivers” get a decent drive over the next couple of years so that “when” Hamilton decides to retire/leave, they have some talent available to step in.

      1. @dbradock – I agree about Russell having to prove himself, the Williams hasn’t exactly been a platform to judge a driver’s talents since 2018. And we’ve seen how poorly Vandoorne performed in last year’s shabby McLaren, so, as investors like to caution us “past performance might not be indicative of future trends”. :)

    7. @phylyp @jeanrien

      I don’t know what their priority is, because as of now, we don’t know if Mercedes intend to continue in F1 until 2025, 2030, or beyond.

      That’s the big unknown all of the big manufacturers including Daimler Benz have taken sales hits over the last few quarters.and it’s getting harder to justify their participation in F1 although the cap may prove an incentive to stay on Formula e must be looking good as well.

      know Ocon’s name crops up as a potential Bottas replacement.

      What? First I’ve heard of it :)
      Apparently Wolff will be making a decision about the no2 seat after the race at the Hungaroring. So we shouldn’t have long to wait.

      1. @johnrkh – good call out about Formula E. Merc definitely seemed to have mapped out their FE future, and it’s a question of when they pull the trigger on their F1 operation. I can almost predict the PR copy that’ll be issued: “Mercedes Benz is a forward-looking company, and electric is the future. This is why we’re pivoting our flagship race operations to FE…”.

    8. When Lewis’s race started to unravel, I remember thinking ‘this is the time for Bottas 2.0 to step up and get back in the championship hunt’. Champions maximise those rare opportunities. Bottas binned it in the wall struggling to pass a Racing Point.

      Bottas’s championship bid has officially ended and he is now driving for his seat. Again.

      1. Maybe Bottas 3.0 will hold that spark inside him for longer than just the initial flyaways? ;)

        Yeah, I was one of those who believed I was really seeing a Bottas 2.0 to be a replacement for Rosberg.

    9. I did a small recap of the season so far.

      How is Bottas considered a poor driver that should loose Mercedes seat?

      Hamilton is pretty good by any standards, Bottas is not far from him. He is no Gasly. There is no urgent change needed.

      Is George Russel that good? How good can one claim to be driving 1s faster than last place but still 1s behind any competition.

      Is Ocon good now after a year out of the car? Remember Vandorne, he lost all shine from his GP2 year after a year of.

      If they could get Alonso, sure. If they can get Vettel, that would be nice. Max Verstappen? Who could Mercedes get?

      Bottas is rather decent and not a serious threat for Hamilton.

      For F1 I think, it would be best if Mercedes get Max Verstappen. Dominant team is only good for F1 if two drivers fight a close championship battle.

      1. @jureo Why would Verstappen leave RB? if they continue their current trajectory RB will be very competitive next yr.

        1. They were always competitive to the level of a few wins per year. Until 2021 I hazard a bet they will be semi competitive. And with time, there is less and less hope competitive order will seriously change. Mercedes don’t have any obvious cheating discovered so far. So there is nothing FIA can do to curb their performance advantage.

      2. @jureo – I think having two drivers that can effectively be good enough to win races irrespective of who is on form is what Toto is after. What i mean is, thinking back to the Ham and Ros days (forum keep me honest), most of time they had 1 – 2 finishes in the rare occasions where they got 0 points from a car, normally was due to mechanical problems not often driver error. Toto i believe is seeing the situation with Bottas with the German GP as an unforced error. Toto may seem warm and cuddly when infront of interviewers but on the few occasions when they pan to him after a problem he looks like a guy that will turn ugly at any problem!

    10. Yes, he indeed should have.

    11. Before the weekend Toto said the team will analyse performance of Bottas in the next 2 races (Germany and Hungary) and make a decision between him and Ocon in August. So Bottas has to win in Hungary to have any chance of being retained by the team. He might very well have blown his chances in Germany.

    12. Toto is unfortunately correct, as much as I hate to type this, Rosberg would’ve finished that race on the podium. The one thing that drivers need to do if you’re up against Hamilton is take these rare opportunities, the only one that has appears to be Verstappen.
      @amg44 – Couldn’t agree more.

      1. @icarby I get what your saying, and agree… but not in the rain! Nico was an embarrassment in the rain versus Lewis, and even Lewis couldn’t keep it pointed upstream in Germany.

        1. @Xcm – I hear that, but the moment Hamilton crashed, Rosberg’s engineer would’ve been on the radio to him saying Hamilton’s crashed and dropped back. keep your nose clean or words to that effect plus they’ll be saying all you need to do is bring the car home which is what Rosberg would’ve done. Even in the rain. I remember back in 2016 when Verstappen and Hamilton were bombing it round the track Rosberg had a moment but kept it on track, he wasn’t quick but the important thing is he bagged the points he needed. Bottas clearly didn’t do that and now is probably kicking himself.

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