Wolff doubts Bottas came close to F1 retirement after team orders

Toto Wolff doubts Valtteri Bottas came close to retiring from Formula 1 following Mercedes’ use of team orders over two years ago after the Finn’s claim on Netflix.

Wolff doubts Bottas came close to F1 retirement after team orders

Mercedes sparked controversy at the 2018 Russian Grand Prix when it asked Bottas to move aside for team-mate Lewis Hamilton in a bid to protect its 1-2 finish.

Bottas was left visibility disappointed and unhappy by the call from Mercedes, and he claimed during the most recent series of Drive to Survive on Netflix that the incident made him consider quitting F1.

“That was tough, tough to accept,” Bottas said. “I was pretty angry. Honestly, I was thinking, why do I do this?

“I was even thinking of quitting, of giving up. Straight after the race, I said I would not do it again.”

But Mercedes team principal Wolff said he did not think at the time that Bottas was close to retiring from F1 altogether in the wake of the incident.

“No, he was very downhearted, of course. I understand that - but I don't think he was close to retirement,” Wolff said.

“Because he's too much of a competitor for that. But I can imagine, in the heat of the situation, after the race, you don't understand the world.”

Toto Wolff, Executive Director - Business, Mercedes AMG, with Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes-AMG F1

Toto Wolff, Executive Director - Business, Mercedes AMG, with Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes-AMG F1

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Mercedes has occasionally used team orders during Bottas and Hamilton’s time as team-mates, aiding its constructors’ championship title victories over the past four seasons.

The team has always given its drivers equal treatment, and only made calls to stop them attacking each other or to swap positions when deemed absolutely necessary.

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Reflecting on the call to swap the drivers in Sochi, Wolff said it was a “disastrous situation for all of us” as Mercedes tried to protect the team result amid pressure from Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

“I think it was necessary because it was all on the line with Sebastian,” Wolff said. “Valtteri held up the train, with Lewis squeezed in between.

“The way I hated that, I can imagine how bad that must have been for him, much worse. Valtteri is not Nico [Rosberg], he also works quite differently. He certainly has the will inside him to get close to Lewis and beat him, but in his own way, which is different.

“It's all about your own performance, your own expectations, which is different from, for example, unloading every political weapon. But those were also Nico's strengths. You have to admit that.”

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