Wolff may reconsider Bottas radio messages after pace ‘flatlined’

Toto Wolff says he may need to reconsider his in-race radio messages to Valtteri Bottas after the Mercedes Formula 1 driver's pace "flatlined" when catching Max Verstappen at Portimao.

Wolff may reconsider Bottas radio messages after pace ‘flatlined’

Mercedes team principal Wolff has been heard giving messages of encouragement to Bottas at a number of recent races after a request for more feedback from the Finn last year.

Bottas was in pursuit of Verstappen while running third in Sunday's Portuguese Grand Prix when Wolff was heard on the radio saying: "Hunt him down, Valtteri, you're the quickest car."

An exhaust sensor issue ultimately cost Bottas around five seconds, denying him the chance to bear down on Verstappen and leaving him third in the final results.

Wolff said that while he enjoyed getting involved in the race via team radio, he might need to reconsider future messages after it failed to spark a pace improvement from Bottas.

"We discussed it, and I enjoy it also, because I'm so passionate about things that having a release valve to Valtteri [is good]," Wolff said.

"I thought it works well. It actually didn't work well this time, so I maybe need to shut up next time, or at least discuss it with him.

"I need to speak to him again. He's mentally strong, when you saw how he recovered from last weekend [at Imola].

"He was really catching up, really hunting him down, but when I came on the radio, it kind of flatlined. So maybe not in the future any more."

Toto Wolff, Executive Director (Business), Mercedes AMG and Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1

Toto Wolff, Executive Director (Business), Mercedes AMG and Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

But Bottas said after the race that he was always happy to receive messages of encouragement over the radio from Wolff.

"There's been many times that he's opened the radio to say something," Bottas said.

"It's all supportive and it shows there's the support and the passion behind, and it never hurts.

"Obviously I'm always giving it every single bit I have on track, but yeah, it's good."

After scoring pole position on Saturday, Bottas slipped behind both Verstappen and team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the race, resigning him to third at the chequered flag.

But Wolff was confident that Bottas would rediscover his top form soon, and was encouraged by how he bounced back from his retirement at Imola two weeks earlier.

Top 10: Things we learned from the 2021 Portuguese GP

"He's put it on pole, and had a very solid race, he led," Wolff said.

"It's clear when you are in the front and just kicking a hole in the air, and the car behind you has DRS, that's very difficult.

"At that moment, Lewis opened up a bit of a gap, and was gone. But he controlled Max well.

"We lost the undercut, that was unfortunate, and then we let him down with the engine, that went into a safety mode.

"So all in all, I think like many times, it could have worked for Valtteri. We were pushing hard and continue to support him, and next time we'll see what he's capable of doing in Barcelona."

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