A lack of “hunger” and “fight” in wheel-to-wheel action is currently holding Valtteri Bottas back from challenging for the title, according to Mark Webber.
Bottas enjoyed his best season so far with Mercedes, finishing P2 in the Championship and taking four wins in 2019, yet he ended the season 87 points behind his team-mate and champion Lewis Hamilton.
There’s no doubt that Bottas’ performances are on the up, but he’s yet to find the missing ingredients to step up to Hamilton’s level, and ex-Red Bull driver Webber thinks “hunger” and “fight” in wheel-to-wheel combat are those missing ingredients.
Speaking on Channel 4’s On The Marbles podcast, Webber said: “It’s been a tough season for Valtteri.
“Ferrari were meant to come out of the blocks after winter testing, it didn’t happen, and Mercedes came out of the blocks and were very strong.
“Then we had the resurgence of Ferrari in the middle of the year, and again Lewis just showed his experience in dealing with that hot kitchen when Ferrari did arrive.
“Bottas in terms of wheel-to-wheel, that hunger that fight, going down swinging, often we still miss a bit of that with Valtteri.
“Lewis has put the masterclass on everyone, Leclerc arrived with a couple of uppercuts, Seb [Vettel] with a couple of uppercuts, he’s just picked them off one by one.
“Over the season his stamina levels are extraordinary.”
Bottas says he has a plan to challenge Hamilton next season, and another former racer in David Coulthard explained what he thought needed to be included in that plan.
“You continue to evolve throughout your career to the point where you mentally become tired and give up,” he said.
“So I don’t doubt that he will have learnings from this year, he’s a bright lad, he’s got speed, so he’ll be able to apply that into the way he goes about his racing next year.
“He essentially has to start with out-qualifying Lewis which I know he has done a pretty solid job in that area, but not only once he does that he needs to consistently out-race him, which I think Lewis more often than not in wheel-to-wheel action he has been one of the stronger guys in that area.
“Beyond that it’s difficult to imagine what more he could do because it all comes down to lap time and on-track action. Everything else doesn’t really matter.”