Toto Wolff says that Valtteri Bottas is ‘certainly not a phenomenon’ like Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.
The Finn has been working under Wolff at Mercedes since replacing Nico Rosberg in 2017 but will stop doing so at the end of this year when he leaves to join Alfa Romeo.
In his time with the German team, he has often been the ideal number two driver to Hamilton but has never taken the fight to the seven-time World Champion over the course of a season.
That has very much been the case this year, with him failing to keep up with either his team-mate or Verstappen as the two have battled it out for the Drivers’ Championship.
Wolff himself has admitted that, while he’s good enough to be the lead man at Alfa Romeo, the 32-year-old isn’t at the same level as the other two.
That he takes the lead there. He can bring the team forward,” he told speedweek.com when asked what he expected of Bottas next year.
“He’s certainly not a phenomenon like Lewis or Max, which is very rare, but most recently in Turkey, for example, he drove better than the two of them…”
It’s official. Next year, I’ll be a Mercedes F1 driver. This is a special day for me and I want to say a huge thank you to @WilliamsRacing, @MercedesAMGF1 and everyone who has supported me in getting to where I am today. I couldn’t have done it without every single one of you. 💙 pic.twitter.com/MmGA1vr9mR
— George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63) September 7, 2021
Replacing Bottas as Hamilton’s team-mate next year is George Russell, and many expect the Williams man to take the fight to Hamilton given how impressive has been.
Whether he can do so or not isn’t what Wolff cares about most though, with the Austrian’s priority being that he is a team player.
It doesn’t matter whether he is slower or faster than Lewis or on the same level,” he said.
“He has to be a team player. With us, the team is the star, not a single member.”
Hamilton’s contract lasts until the end of 2023, and it is widely believed that he’ll retire after that, but Wolff says nothing has been decided yet.
“We are very close and we exchange ideas every day,” said the team boss.
“But we both know that an F1 career is a moving goal. There is no date he is committed to. What is certain is that we will do the best possible job together next year too.”
Wolff has already told Russell he will not tolerate the new Mercedes driver crossing any “boundaries” when he races for the team next year.