Wolff: Mercedes must avoid "exuberance and depression" over driver form

Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff says his team must do more to help maintain its drivers' confidence levels, rather than rush between "exuberance and depression" over minor form swings

Wolff: Mercedes must avoid "exuberance and depression" over driver form

Wolff says that Valtteri Bottas' difficulties at the end of the season highlighted the change of mindset that comes when a driver's title ambitions have ended, which he suggests was not always appreciated before.

After a difficult Sakhir GP weekend, where Bottas was overshadowed by stand-in George Russell, Wolff had talks with the Finn to discuss how best they could help support each other more.

One change made for the F1 season finale in Abu Dhabi was a request from Bottas for Wolff to be more encouraging on the team radio.

Wolff says that dealing with the drivers' mindset is something that should be done better, and the team needed to shy away from putting too much emphasis on single weekend performances.

"What we need to look at, and what we need to work out collaboratively, is that for drivers, it's all about winning the world championship," Wolff told Autosport.

"And when that has been decided, we need to find out how to keep the energy levels high. But the margin between winning and losing, between hero and zero, is so small in this sport.

"If he [Bottas] would have led the way in Bahrain 2 [Sakhir] and won the race, nobody would have criticised Valtteri. And that was down to a good or less good start.

"He was also catching up in the race before our unfortunate pitstop incident.

"So we mustn't swing between exuberance and depression in terms of our judgement on drivers, but kind of see the average and help the drivers to have confidence, to develop their abilities and achieve sustainable performances."

Wolff says that although Bottas was comprehensively outscored by Lewis Hamilton last year, finishing 124 points behind, the tally did not tell the true story of their form.

He cites the fact that Bottas lost a lot of points through punctures or events outside his control, like the red flag at the Tuscan Grand Prix.

Insight: The bad luck that shaped Valtteri Bottas' failed 2020 F1 title bid

"Valtteri has had highs, but more downs this year than he deserved," added Wolff.

"And the downs were not due to a lack of performance, the downs were simply unlucky.

"How many times has he been in the lead of a race that he would have probably won before a red flag was thrown? Or before he suffered from a tyre puncture? Multiple occasions.

"I think he could have had a handful more victories. And the championship could have stayed more open much, much longer.

"He performs on a very high level. There's no reason to question him if he has those fantastic weekends with top performances."

shares
comments
Why Alpine's latest signing could be its best hope of F1 glory

Previous article

Why Alpine's latest signing could be its best hope of F1 glory

Next article

Magnussen: Fighting for points at best in F1 "becomes old"

Magnussen: Fighting for points at best in F1 "becomes old"
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Drivers Susie Wolff
Teams Mercedes
Author Jonathan Noble
Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish” Plus

Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish”

We’ve seen five distinct versions of Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes as he’s tried to fulfil his own ambitions while being a consummate team player – two difficult, competing missions which have been challenging to reconcile. Speaking exclusively to STUART CODLING, Bottas explains his highs and lows… and why he still believes he can be world champion

Does Aston have a case in F1 2021’s big technical row? Plus

Does Aston have a case in F1 2021’s big technical row?

Aston Martin claims Formula 1’s latest technical tweaks have cost it competitiveness – and that it’s the innocent victim of a regulatory stitch-up aimed at pegging back Mercedes. But is any of this actually true? It depends on who you ask, says STUART CODLING

Formula 1
May 14, 2021
How long can F1 2021's brewing title battle stay clean? Plus

How long can F1 2021's brewing title battle stay clean?

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been evenly matched so far in the 2021 Formula 1 title race. Neither has been afraid to get aggressive against each other on track, teeing up an enthralling contest as the year unwinds. But is their rivalry destined to end in broken shards of carbon fibre?

Formula 1
May 13, 2021
What the Spain result tells F1 about the next phase of the Mercedes/Red Bull title fight Plus

What the Spain result tells F1 about the next phase of the Mercedes/Red Bull title fight

OPINION: Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have recovered from their pre-season woes to take three wins from the opening four races of 2021. But each time Red Bull and Max Verstappen have pushed them hard. So, what clues did the latest round of that battle – the Spanish Grand Prix – tease about the next stage of the season?

Formula 1
May 12, 2021
How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner Plus

How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner

The Brabham BT46B raced once, won once, then vanished – or did it? STUART CODLING reveals the story of the car which was never actually banned…

Formula 1
May 11, 2021
The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle Plus

The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle

Formula 1’s visits to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over recent years have been met with familiar criticisms despite tweaks here and there to the track to improve racing. With the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix largely going the same way, proper solutions need to be followed to achieve F1’s wider targets

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Often described as Formula 1's laboratory, the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona gave the clearest demonstration yet of the pecking order in 2021. And it's the key discrepancies from that order which illuminate who is excelling, and who needs to hit the reset button

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
How Red Bull’s deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain Plus

How Red Bull’s deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain

An aggressive first corner move from Max Verstappen appeared to have set the Red Bull driver on course for victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. But canny strategy from Mercedes - combined with the absence of Red Bull's number two from the lead group - allowed Lewis Hamilton to pull off a demoralising reversal

Formula 1
May 10, 2021