Wolff got ‘Duel of the Desert’ flashbacks at Eifel GP

Mark Scott
Lewis Hamilton Valtteri Bottas Mercedes

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Toto Wolff was taken on a nervy trip down memory lane at the Eifel Grand Prix as he was reminded of Lewis Hamilton’s battle with Nico Rosberg in Bahrain.

Watching his two drivers line up from P1 and P2 on the grid at the Nurburgring, Hamilton got a very good getaway off the line and looked to have got the opening move done on Valtteri Bottas heading into the tricky Turn 1.

Bottas was forced extremely wide but showed a rare sign of aggression as he battled to nip back ahead of Hamilton going into Turn 2 and Turn 3, with Hamilton then looking slightly vulnerable to an attack from Max Verstappen in P3.

Those opening exchanges reminded Wolff of Hamilton and Rosberg trading blows at the 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix.

“That corner really reminded me of you and Lewis in Bahrain,” Wolff said when interviewed by Rosberg on Sky F1 broadcast.

“It was great. They raced each other hard but they know where the boundaries are and Valtteri, true rally style, kept his foot on the throttle and held the position.

“Lewis was in full lock, so he braked late and understeered, that’s why he ended up pushing Valtteri wide.”

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Asked about the big lock-up from Bottas which opened the door for Hamilton to take the lead of the race, Wolff replied: “I don’t think Valtteri had worser tyre graining issues than Lewis.

“Both cars reported graining. I think when you look at Valtteri’s first laps there was just unbelievable pace. After three laps he was a few seconds gone and maybe that’s why the tyres then suffered a little bit more.

“But he didn’t really complain about the tyres, so I think overall a two-stop for him could have been a winning formula.

“In cold conditions, Valtteri is pretty good [in managing his tyres]. As I said, if he hadn’t have locked tyres I believe for sure that Valtteri would have raced for the win.”

After losing the race lead to Hamilton, Bottas would then go on to retire from the race with a suspected MGU-K issue.

With Hamilton going on to clinch a record-equalling 91st Formula 1 win, he has now opened up a 69-point gap to Bottas in the World Championship standings.

On his retirement, Bottas said: “Unlucky. During the Virtual Safety Car I started to lose power, and it never recovered.

“It was quite a big loss of power so something to do with the power unit, I haven’t got any details yet.

“At the race start we had a good battle, there was no way I was going to make it easy for him [Hamilton].

“I’m glad I could maintain the lead, obviously then later I had the lock-up into Turn 1 so I lost the position but it meant that I stopped early and the new tyres were starting to feel pretty good so I had no doubt that I would carry good pace and probably [would have] undercut.”

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