The French Grand Prix turned out to be a frustrating experience for Bottas. The Finn finished the race in P4 after Mercedes did not listen to the strategy he envisioned. Wolff is however happy about the behavior of his driver and thinks he is improving.
Yesterday’s French Grand Prix began in a very positive way for Bottas that managed to get involved in a realistic fight for the lead of the race. After 17 laps of racing, Mercedes called the Finn into the pits to attempt an undercut on Verstappen.
It was later revealed that this early call was required due to excessive vibrations that could have cost the Finn a failure “at any time”, according to Wolff. At the end of the race, Bottas found himself unable to find pace on over-exploited hard tires.
The 31-year-old was overtaken by Perez and expressed his frustration per radio, pointing out that the two-stop strategy he envisioned seemed to him the best but that nobody listened to his opinion: “Why the f*ck did nobody listen to me when I said it was a two-stopper?”
Following this tumultuous radio exchange, Mercedes team principal Wolff admitted he “loved” the reaction of his driver, thinking he has finally managed to externalize his thoughts during the race.
“I loved it, that he speaks his mind now, and doesn’t internalize,” Wolff said.
This improvement is not the single one the Austrian has noticed. The team principal was also happy with Bottas’ fighting spirit and his close battle with championship leaders Verstappen and Hamilton at the beginning of the Grand Prix.
“I still think that he delivered a good race to be honest because he was right up there with Lewis and Max for large parts of the race.”
“I think the development goes in the right direction, to be honest. Yes, there is still a part, or a gap in tire management [to Hamilton]. But we’ll look at it in detail in the next few days.”
“We still believe the one-stop was the better strategy. But when fighting so strong after the stop, we just stretched the tire, stressed the tires too much to make it all the way to the end.”
“But I see a real progression with how Valtteri tackles the races, and qualifying, we never doubted.”