Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Hungaroring, 2018

Wolff denies Bottas is the team’s number two following “wingman” remark

2018 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff denies Valtteri Bottas is serving as a number two drivers after referring to him as a “wingman” following the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Bottas said being described as a wingman “hurt”. He spent much of the race under pressure from Sebastian Vettel after making an early pit stop, then fell to fifth in the final laps after his tyres went off.

However Wolff denied the team had used Bottas as a “number two” driver to help Hamilton and said his remarks had been “spun out of control”.

He described Bottas’s driver as the best he had done for the team since joining them at the beginning of last season.

“In today’s race starting P2 after lap one, Valtteri’s race was the perfect wingman’s race. And I don’t mean it in championship terms. We have no number two.

“But how he was racing was from my standpoint the best race so far with Valtteri at Mercedes. The bittersweet feeling that I have is he would have deserved to have finished P2, where he started and where he was after lap one.

“But maybe the word ‘wingman’ doesn’t do him justice. He drove a sensational race and helped Lewis in a way to build the lead. Lewis on the other side drove a faultless, spectacular race as well.”

Wolff defended Bottas over his collisions with Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo later in the race. Speaking before the stewards gave Bottas a 10-second penalty for tangling with Ricciardo, Wolff said both should be considered racing incidents.

“I don’t know how many laps [his] tyres had on but I think it was around 54. The tyre was completely shot. We were surprised how he managed to hold Sebastian and Kimi [Raikkonen] behind him from 25 or so laps. And we knew than the last five laps would be really critical.

“Sebastian made a good move into turn one on the inside and there was no traction on Valtteri’s car any more. he stayed on the incident on the dirty line, braked late, there was also nowhere to go. A complete normal racing incident.

“The second one the same. The second one looked a bit harsh when you look at the pictures but considering he was on the dirty line and the tyre was shot and the car was damaged on the front wing there was nowhere to go. Daniel tried on the outside, didn’t know that Valtteri’s car was not in perfect state any more and this is how they collided. Nothing on purpose.”

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Keith Collantine
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105 comments on “Wolff denies Bottas is the team’s number two following “wingman” remark”

  1. The world today: one person says what everybody knows and has to backtrack getting closer to a lie than in the beginning.

    1. This is no Ferrari. Cleary Bottas actually had every opportunity.

      Not like Raikkonen who gets sacrificed in every race almost. This race again. They stop him ridiculously early to make sure Mercedes must sacrifice one of their own. Ferrari is simpy sacrificing their dirver to give Vettel a clear path to attack Hamilton for the lead. While Mercedes must react to cover for a potential safety car which would otherwise lose them a position.

      The fact that Bottas then ends up in front of Vettel is not because he was set there as a pawn by Mercedes, but because Ferrari/Vettel completely and utterly messed up.

      Or like in Hockenheim where they also threw Raikkonen under the bus with a ridiculously early stop (either trying to stop off Hamilton or to draw Bottas away from Vettel) and then told him to let Vettel past when he ended up in front of Vettel anyway.

      Yet the Ferrari fans cry wold when Bottas is asked to finish safely rather than to take high risk in tricky conditions. Completely disregarding the double whammy Raikkonen received in the same race.

      1. Man, what are you drinking? I want some too.

        1. Reality? Yeah, you should try some.

          1. Yes, I want your biased reality, that’s what I need, thank you

          2. Lol, talk about biased. To you too then Give us some of your unbiased “reality”. What did Mercedes do that shows Bottas is their #2 driver.

        2. @ Myself: LOL!

          Ferrari was blamed of being fools for not covering their opponents’ strategies and losing races, now when they do their own game they’re blamed for doing so ’cause they trick the opponents into early pit-stops.

      2. I’m not saying that only Mercedes has #1-#2 drivers.
        Denying what the facts tell us is the bad part.

        1. What did Mercedes do that makes Bottas a #2 driver?

          1. Didn’t attend to his contract until Lewis got what he wanted, which was a veto on Riccairdo and Bottas as number 2. Once that was sorted, hey presto they re-signed Bottas.

          2. @bigjoe – glad to hear from someone who was part of the entire negotiation!

          3. @bigjoe I forgot to mention this, but I meant something that actually happened.

      3. @patrickl

        Completely agree with your comment. Starting from as early as China this season, Kimi’s race strategy has been compromised a ridiculous number of times just to help Vettel.

        Bottas has been given a much more equal opportunity at Mercedes. Sure, it’s reached a part of the season where both the title contenders get more support form the team. Mercedes definitely took a slight gamble with Bottas’ strategy today, hoping it would work out great for both of them. If not, it would still work out great for Lewis. Bottas was a second priority today. But what irritates me is Ferrari fans jumping on the “wingman” bandwagon. Heck, Ferrari have perfected the art of destroying a #2 driver’s race to suit their #1 driver. They have done it on tons of occasions this year itself… so why get excited when Mercedes does it as well?

        1. Pedro Guilherme De Almeida Carvalho
          29th July 2018, 22:47

          Ferrari and Mercedes have both number 2 drivers. We all know that. The difference is that Kimi knows it, and Bottas and Merc are in denial. today Kimi got a change to get the best position. He lost a place to Vettel, Ferrari gave him the best strategy to race. Mercedes just did everything it could to block both Ferraris and have Hamilton race without any pressure. why did they pit bottas at the same time as Kimi? Bottas was racing Vettel. Bottas started second ends the race in 5. Kimi starts 3rd ends 3rd. Great pit work from Ferrari, great pit work from merc to have Hamilton in front and sacrifice Bottas.

          1. Yeah, but it’s nonuse telling people this. They won’t believe because wolf otherwise.

      4. Yeah but that would go against their biased opinions

      5. LOL, what you find wrong at Ferrari is perfect strategy at Mercedes. Some impartiality + real facts, and not just made up fans stories would be appreciated. The plain facts are represented by the outcome of the races too. And it’s Mercedes who threw BOT under the bus to protect him against VET on Ultras, and losing his place to a guy named Ricciardo, who started 12th and made 2 stops, is more than proof that BOT wasn’t on the best possible strategy. RAI was behind BOT and he would have been there all race long, so going for 2 stops and having fresh tyres at the end obviously saved him from losing a place to RIC even before BOT. RAI had no chance to get ahead of VET and BOT anyway, so it did even matter the strategy deployed. Going for the 1 stop strategy… as you imply as best… RAI would have lost his position to RIC more than sure and actually that battle might have saved BOT from losing his place to RIC. So, lots of chances for RAI to finish 2 places lower than he actually finished now. And we’ve seen it many times before at Hungaroring that guys who pitted 2 times were simply storming through the field in the last 15-20 laps. 1 pit-stop at Hungaroring is the good strategy only if you’re 1st and able to build up a minimum gap, like HAM did. Other than that, usually it’s the losing bet, being more or less a sitting duck in the last 5-10 laps. Just ask RIC and he’ll tell you how it works.

        1. @mg1982 How delusional dfo you have to be to assume that Bottas was throw under Bottas the bus to hold up Vettel? The was miles behind Vettel.

          The only reason Vettel ended up behind Bottas is because Ferrari and Vettel screwed up tremendously.

          Bottas was fighting Raikkonen. Not Vettel TGhey knew Raikkonen had a much faster car, so they had to try something. Which could have worked.

    2. So, the team which is generally open and transparent about team orders when team orders apply, are lying?

      Compared to the other team who consistently try and paint a false picture in public, so much so that they confuse their own drivers with their pathetic spin (ask Kimi)

      Toto’s failure here was to chose his words carefully, but if ever there was a front running team commited to not issuing team orders it’s got to be Mercedes.

      1. But it’s not about “open and transparent about team orders”, is it?

    3. Alex McFarlane
      29th July 2018, 19:25

      This. Almost everyone and their dog knows Bottas isn’t fast enough to challenge Lewis over a season, and that it was likely he’d end up in this position.

      He’s a good solid driver, who has at least been given a chance to compete with Lewis until Lewis does what he does at this stage of the season – put the afterburners on.

      1. That’s an excuse?! Doesn’t seem to be an excuse for VET/Ferrari. Is it RAI fast and consistent enough to challenge VET over a season?! ALO dominated him too, MAS was just as good overall, then it’s not proof enough that not winning 1 race in the last 2 years while the guys in the inferior machinery (RBR) managed to get 3-4 wins each one of them is proof enough that next to VET he’s even worse than BOT vs HAM. Come on, this race was the 1st time this season when he managed to outqualify VET, barely outqualify him, and thanks to rain. Some of you cannot stop from praising VER for outqualifying RIC in 75% of the races, yet there’s no bell ringing for you that VET outqualified RAI every race until Hungary.

        1. Alex McFarlane
          30th July 2018, 12:05

          Excuse? No. Bottas has been given every opportunity up to this point to establish himself as a championship contender, much as Rosberg was before him.

          He’s had some bad luck, absolutely, but also when he’s had the chance to compete against Ferrari he more often than not hasn’t been able to take the challenge to Vettel, which is why at this stage of the season he’s getting #2 treatment. If he were closer to the top points wise they’d still allow their drivers to race, as was the case when Rosberg won in 2016, and no doubt Bottas will be given a fair chance next season when everyone begins again from scratch.

    4. The only reason they resigned Bottas instead of Ricciardo was precisely because Bottas is a good number 2 driver! A decent driver who will never really bother Hamilton, which is exactly what Ricciardo would do.


      1. Agree with Alex McFarlane that Bottas is not a faster driver than Hamilton. Same can be said for Rosberg but he won the championship. Perhaps that was because Mercedes were so dominant that they just cannot make it too obvious to the outside world who are they preferring.

        Therefore by giving Bottas such poor strategy, how is he going to maximize his points haul to be in contention for the championship? I believe if Mercedes are helping Bottas to gain the maximum points in this race, they should’ve pitted Bottas after Kimi has pitted for second time. He had a comfortable margin by that time to pit and came out in front of Kimi.

        And lastly, it is a known fact that Kimi is the no.2 driver in Ferrari. They don’t really come out denying it race after race, and how often you see Kimi in a position to challenge for a race win. Plus Kimi is 38 years old now, not to say that he is not hungry anymore but definitely I don’t see the hunger from him anymore, compared to 10 years ago.

        Bottas is still a young driver going into the peak of his career and quietly accepted the role of Hamilton’s assistant. This is the contrasting facts between the two teams’ no.2 drivers. Rarely we see driver with fresh tyres being told not to overtake his teammate for the race win and just said Copy James.

        This is also why both teams doesn’t want Ricciardo as number two as it would cause a lot of potential conflicts knowing that Daniel is on a league of his own when he is in form, and certainly will be very unhappy to let his teammate by.

        1. Schumi Bottas wasn’t given a poor strategy, he had to Cover Raikkonen’s strategy. Which indeed was a poor strategy solely designed to disgracefully use him as a pawn.

          Still Mercedes tried their best to keep Bottas ahead of Raikkonen in a much faster car than Bottas. They almost succeeded.

          How on earth does any of that make Bottas a #2 driver?

          You literally are just making stuff up.

  2. Best defensive driver of the year. He drove a his car like a truck for 90% of the race creating safe time space for LH.
    No, he is not his wingman!

  3. Wolff yet again proving he is as two faced a human being as possible. Pathetic.

    1. The only two facedness displayed is that of the people who are perfectly fine with Ferrari’s blatant #2 status treatment of Raikkonen and yet grasp at every straw to pretend Mercedes is doing the same.

      In this race Bottas clearly couldn’t keep up. Indeed he was on a poor strategy because he had to cover off the Raikkonen who got sacrificed by Ferrari yet again. Bottas wasn’t on that poorer strategy by Mercedes’ choice, but because Ferrari threw Raikkonen under the bus. They had no choise but to cover that move.

      Bottas couldn’t keep up with Hamilton at all and the best they could hope for was that he could finish on that set till the end. The fact that he kept Vettel and Raikkonen behind him helped Hamilton. Which makes him a great wingman during this race.

      1. It’s not that we’re fine with Ferrari’s #2 treatment of Kimi. It’s that we’re NOT fine with Toto, Sky and people like you trying to cover up the fact that Bottas is also cannon fodder, wingman to leading man Hamilton or as they call him in Italy ‘tappos’, literally ‘the plug’.

        1. That’s exactly this, but man, those guys will never admit this, he inverted things in his first paragraph, the main problem is the other way around. Hammy fans are the ones who doesn’t admit this, Mercedes are the same as Ferrari, the difference is that merc they say they aren’t, and people buy it.

          1. What is there to admit? What?

        2. Difference is vettel cries to his team every time kimi beats him fair and square, hamilton doesn’t ask for team orders

      2. Alex McFarlane
        29th July 2018, 19:15

        I agree in general, and hindsight is a wonderful thing, but even at the time I didn’t think Merc needed to cover Raikkonen – it was a bluff and they fell for it.

        Ferrari’s practice pace was nowhere to be seen today, as a Lewis fan I was fully expecting it would be tough to hold off Ferrari today but Bottas managed it on worn softs for quite some time.

        1. It’s quite a gamble not cover. They didn’t in Germany where Ferrari also threw Raikkonen under the bus, but here it’s more likely for a safety car to come out.

          True Vettel was a bit disappointing today, but we never saw his true pace. Vettel was setting pretty similar laptimes as Hamilton, but on much slower tyres. Showing that that Ferrari had plenty of pace.

          They mostly messed up with that stop for Vettel. Trying too hard to get the “perfect” strategy to leave space for a small issue during the stop.

          Due to that we never got to see the true pace, because he ended up stuck behind Bottas.

          I doubt Vettel could have passed Hamilton (seeing how much trouble he had getting past Bottas on ancient tyres), but he could have easily closed the gap on his fresh Ultrasofts vs Hamilton on worn Softs.

          1. So, it wasn’t VET who unleashed a “supreme tyre management” when he lapped as fast as HAM on Ultras, but the car… while in Germany it was HAM, and not the car! Talking about bias…

          2. @mg1982 Vettel was in a faster car. That makes him go faster yes. It’s truly shocking that I need to explain that to you.

            Hamilton was just as much faster as Bottas in Hockenheim. So …. not the car.

            Just stop it. You truly are embarassing yourself.

          3. PMccarthy_is_a_legend (@pmccarthy_is_a_legend)
            30th July 2018, 18:09

            Wow this @patrickl guy is either really naive or completely out of touch. I don’t know what race he watched but BOT was definitely used by mercedes to allow HAM to open up a gap.

          4. @pmccarthy_is_a_legend Wow seriously? Talk about naive. Or rather plain dumb. The only reason Bottas was there was because Ferrari threw Raikkonen under the bus and stopped him so early to try and draw away a Mercedes or two from Vettel. So Mercedes had to cover that off and stop Bottas early too.

            So no. That’s an incredibly dumb example. Ferrari’s #2 treatment of Raikkonen was what forced Bottas to also stop early.

            To make it even more ridiculous, the only reason that Vettel ended up behind Bottas was because he and Ferrari messed up.

          5. PMccarthy_is_a_legend (@pmccarthy_is_a_legend)
            31st July 2018, 17:45

            Ok sure buddy, sure. Be a good lad now and go away.

          6. @pmccarthy_is_a_legend Yeah that’s about as sad a comeback as your original nonsense.

            Either come with an actual example or get lost yourself. We all know you don;t have any examples. So buh-bye!

    2. What about Hammy?

  4. Foot in the mouth disease.

  5. As someone who watches the races on Sky, it boggles me how much their pundits suck up to Toto and take every word of his as truth. They never put him on the spot, or ask him difficult questions as they do with Arrivabene and Horner.

    1. Neil (@neilosjames)
      29th July 2018, 20:49

      Hm, I also watch Sky but I’ve never seen it that way.

      If they’re friendly and less ‘difficult’ towards any of the team bosses these days I’d say it would be Horner, who repays the pleasantness by always being their pit wall live guy.

      1. AntonioCorleone
        29th July 2018, 22:43

        Horner gets paid for that if you didn’t know.

        1. No he does not get paid for that.

  6. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
    29th July 2018, 19:54

    Anyone that thinks a teammate to Hamilton isn’t a number two by default is deluded.

  7. Rosberg was better than Bottas

    1. Rosberg didn’t do so well taking out Ricciardo in Hungary though. Rosberg clipped of Ricciardo’s front wing nicely in turn 1, but in doing so suffered a puncture himself. Bottas did it better I feel. Nice clean whack on the side.

      1. @patrickl
        Good one (Pink Panther)

  8. Thomas Bennett (@felipemassadobrasil)
    29th July 2018, 20:05


  9. Thomas Bennett (@felipemassadobrasil)
    29th July 2018, 20:09

    On the Raikkonen front though, I don’t see much of a reason to lose him yet. He is 3rd in the WDC, which is perfect for Ferrari. Nothing more was expected of him than that.

    1. My view exactly. Ferrari don’t want the 2nd driver challenging the 1st. They do everything possible to get the second driver out of the way of the 1st. Then they’ll later complain that the second driver isn’t doing enough.

      1. Pedro Guilherme De Almeida Carvalho
        29th July 2018, 22:55

        And Mercedes is not doing the same? If mercedes gives the same treatment to both drivers then Bottas is really bad compared to Hamilton. Kimi is third on the championship 14 points ahead of Bottas and about 50 behind Vettel.

        1. Bernie's Miniature Grandpa
          30th July 2018, 0:58

          You’re seeing only what you want to see. Trying to deceive others into adopting your position. You’ve pre-judged the whole thing: decided who you like and are now inventing fictitious reasons to justify that choice. Bottas could have been there or thereabouts with Hamilton and Vettel in terms of points scored were it not for a few instances of bad luck. Such as driving a flawless race to within a whisker of victory then being forced to retire after hitting a bit of debris.

    2. Being 2nd and 3rd yet losing the WCC is super-duper-perfect indeed.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        30th July 2018, 13:11

        @mg1982 yeah that is interesting, isn’t it? the battle for the WCC is going to be fierce. Even if Mercedes manage to clinch the WDC, I have a feeling Ferrari may take the WCC away or vice versa. We’ll have to wait to see if Mercedes or Ferrari manage to eke out a total victory that includes both trophies.

  10. Wouldn’t Bottas have made himself a favour in term of championship points by letting Vettel chase Hamilton and eventually have Vettel win the GP. By resisting Bottas was doomed to increase his championship deficit towards championship leader, Hamilton.

    1. The question is does he have a choice? Your pet don’t decide when you should feed him. you feed him when you feed him.

      1. Schumi Well, Vettel should never have ended up behind Bottas.

  11. Even today, so many issues with Ferrari race.

    Meanwhile Wingman gave Hamilton an easy win.

  12. Remember that Bottas wasn’t signed until Lewis’ veto on Riccairdo and Numebr 1 status was eventually agreed on. Then volia, Bottas was re-signed and not Riccairdo.