F1: Hamilton and Bottas take the W12 Mercedes around Bahrain
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Toto Wolff has lathered praise on Valtteri Bottas for his consistent performance during the British Grand Prix after solid third-place finishes in sprint qualifying and in the race at Silverstone, as the Finn looks to make his case for a seat at Mercedes in 2022.
Bottas picked up 16 points across the weekend, as Lewis Hamilton stormed his way to victory with a stunning fightback in front of his home crowd, aided by Mercedes deciding to swap Bottas with his team-mate to clear the way for the seven-time world champion to take the fight to Ferrari.
Despite a ten-second time penalty for causing a collision with his main title rival Max Verstappen, Hamilton chased down Charles Leclerc, crossing the line an eight-time winner of the British Grand Prix, with Bottas coming home in third.
The result meant Mercedes slashed Red Bull’s advantage in both the driver and team standings, with Verstappen scoring no points due to an opening lap crash with Hamilton.
And Wolff was full of praise for Bottas post-race with the Austrian clearly still holding him in high regard.
“He had a brilliant weekend in my opinion because he could have been on pole if he would have had a tow on Friday night and that was obviously impacting his performance,” Wolff said.
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“If you’re on pole it’s much easier.
“And he was very quick [in the race], he drove a really solid race, and just Lewis coming from behind on that hard [tyre] was just in another dimension to everyone else on track.
“But Valtteri was the second quickest car out there and helped for Lewis to secure the way. Valtteri’s just a great team member and great driver with the right character and personality.”
Bottas has yielded many times to team orders, with Hamilton currently very much in the fight for an eighth world championship.
The Briton now sits eight points behind Verstappen, with Bottas 77 points adrift in the driver standings.
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“It is very important because statistically his odds to win the championship are very small compared to Lewis, who is very much in the fight,” said Wolff of the decision to swap their drivers around.
“And we have discussed that, and as tough as it is for a driver, there is no room for margin here in this year’s Championship.”
Bottas is fighting to remain at Mercedes next season after rumours he could be replaced with George Russell, who will be a free agent come the end of a three-year stint with Williams, for 2022.
Wolff has previously hinted conversations should be happening over August’s summer break.
“I think it’s important for George and Valtteri to know whether they’ll be driving next year and that’s, that’s gonna happen,” said Wolff on Friday ahead of qualifying for the British Grand Prix Sprint race.
“I expect some questions in Spa.”
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