Mercedes-Benz Head of Motorsport,Toto Wolff, has praised Valtteri Bottas for his performance during the Spanish Grand Prix, especially as he was able to help his team-mate Lewis Hamilton take victory by holding up Scuderia Ferrari‘s Sebastian Vettel.
At Turn 1 on the opening lap, the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver was involved in an incident with the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, which triggered the retirement of both Raikkonen and Red Bull Racing‘s Max Verstappen.
With damage to his car, Bottas was unable to keep pace with the two leaders, but was well clear of the second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo, and Mercedes used the Finn to hold up Vettel after his first pit stop after the team decided to delay his pit stop.
Ultimately, Bottas failed to finish the Grand Prix, after retiring with a power unit problem, his second such issue across the weekend, and Wolff understood that it was a risk to change the power unit to an older unit because of its age. However, after discovering the problem within the new engine during practice, the mechanics had to complete an unscheduled change between sessions.
“It was a risk,” Wolff admitted. “The problem started when putting the new engine in, we discovered a problem and we knew we would be extending the mileage, and it’s unfortunate. We had it in the past, and [in Spain] it bit Valtteri.
“Valtteri played an important role in Lewis’ victory because his position was third before the failure and he couldn’t really do anything anymore. Probably the car was damaged after contact to Kimi in T1, and he held on to it to bring in valuable points for himself and the team, and then unfortunately we had the engine problem.
“It was real teamwork. Not to forget the one that lost out here, Valtteri, keeping him out, made Sebastian lose valuable lap time – five or six seconds behind Valtteri – overall it was a great team result. Team result meaning the driver, the team, the team-mate, everybody.”
Wolff believes that the first corner clash also protected Hamilton, with Bottas collecting Raikkonen instead of his team-mate, with Verstappen also getting caught up in the incident.
“You don’t need to tell Valtteri,” said Wolff. “He was almost side by side with Lewis, he could have dived in but it was too risky to go in such a manoeuvrer against your team-mate, and then he realized, with Kimi coming from the outside, and he was aggressive enough to stick his nose which then caused the collision with Kimi and then Verstappen.
“So I think overall Valtteri’s start and manoeuvrer in lap 1, protecting his team-mate, was pretty good.”