Toto Wolff was full of praise for Valtteri Bottas’ performance during the Turkish Grand Prix, with the Finn securing the tenth victory of his Formula 1 career in difficult conditions at Intercity Istanbul Park.
Starting from pole position, Bottas held onto the lead at the start, and despite one moment at turn one had the race under control almost all afternoon long. The only time he lost the lead was after his pit stop, and it was not long before he was able to close down and pass Charles Leclerc to retake the position at the front of the field.
Wolff, the Team Principal at the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team, felt it was a dominant display from Bottas in extremely tough conditions.
“Absolute dominance from Valtteri today, a 10/10 drive from the get-go from him,” said Wolff. “He had the race under complete control, not only with his pace but his management of the tyres was fantastic.
“Well done Valtteri, a very strong weekend.”
“We settle for P5 and I’m happy with the decisions we took”
Lewis Hamilton finished fifth in the second Mercedes having started eleventh, but a late pit stop for the seven-time World Champion dropped him away from third place, a decision that did not set too well for the British driver.
However, Wolff feels the call to bring him in with just seven laps remaining for fresh intermediate tyres was justified as Hamilton would have been at risk of losing positions on track as cars on fresh tyres of their own were catching him quickly.
Wolff believes both Leclerc and Sergio Pérez had the pace to pass Hamilton, and had he not pitted when he did, he would have also possibly lost a position to Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda’s Pierre Gasly.
“For Lewis, we had difficult decisions to take throughout the race,” said Wolff. “We thought we could maybe hold out with him, not stopping, and take third place. Or, if a dry line appeared, maybe even bring him in and switch to the Soft tyre.
“The balance for us therefore was between pitting, taking it conservatively and fighting with Leclerc and Perez on track for P3 or, by taking a calculated gamble, have a chance to win the race or finish P3.
“As it unfolded, we could see Leclerc’s pace dropping off on the old Inter, shortly followed by Lewis and then we knew we couldn’t go until the end and needed to stop. At that stage, Lewis was losing 1.5 secs to Gasly and Perez and it would be a matter of time before he was caught. We settle for P5 and I’m happy with the decisions we took.”
Wolff says the team will have to be content to see Hamilton lose eight points to Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen in the Drivers’ Championship, but the fight for both championships will continue until the end of the season in December.
“There is always an absolute view and a relative view,” said Wolff. “The relative view is that in the last race, Red Bull were very happy to only lose 7 points from a grid penalty – today we lost 8 points so it isn’t the end of the world.
“The absolute view is that today, we could have scored another 3, 4 or 5 points more. But that’s fine, the championship is wide open and the fight continues.”