Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team driver Valtteri Bottas has lost the backing of a major sponsor that was instrumental in getting him the seat with the team for the 2017 season.
Wihuri International Oy will no longer back Bottas after Billionaire Antti Aarnio-Wihuri revealed that it was “too expensive” to continue the sponsorship, along with a chain of poor results from the Finn.
Bottas was the only driver in the top five of the championship to not win a Grand Prix this season, with Mercedes and Toto Wolff making it obvious who was the number one driver and number two driver, publicly calling Valtteri a wingman.
“Partly it was not his own fault, but I think he was quite weak at the end of the year,” Aarnio-Wihuri told Ilta Sanomat. “It’s difficult to be Hamilton’s teammate, but Valtteri was also left behind by many others. It was a pretty weak result.”
Bottas’ business manager Ville Ahtiainen told the Finnish broadcaster MTV that losing Wihuri is not the end of the world.
“Wihuri was a great supporter of Valtteri’s journey, but we are in a really good situation,” he said.
“Pretty soon there will be good announcements on the partner side. This does not affect Valtteri’s situation in any way.”
2018 marked first time since Mercedes maiden win in 2012 that the German marque hasn’t had both drivers win a race in a season.