Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff was delighted with the role Valtteri Bottas played in a crucial British Grand Prix for the team.
When Lewis Hamilton collided with title rival Max Verstappen on the opening lap, picking up a 10-second time penalty for his troubles, it appeared the chance of victory had slipped away for Mercedes with Bottas unable to make an impression on race leader Charles Leclerc.
But Hamilton pulled off a stunning comeback victory, aided by Bottas’ quick acceptance to swap positions with his team-mate and clear the path for a shot at Leclerc.
Bottas crossed the line P3, helping Mercedes to reduce the deficit to Red Bull in the Constructors’ Championship to just four points, and Wolff was keen to shower Bottas with praise for his performance.
“He had a brilliant weekend in my opinion because he could have been on pole if he would have had a tow on Friday night and that was obviously impacting his performance,” Wolff told reporters.
“If you’re on pole it’s much easier.
“And he was very quick [in the race], he drove a really solid race and just Lewis coming from behind on that hard [tyre] was just in another dimension to everyone else on track.
“But Valtteri was the second quickest car out there and helped for Lewis to secure the way. Valtteri’s just a great team member and great driver with the right character and personality.”
Bottas is no stranger to team orders at Mercedes and in this situation, Wolff felt the call from Mercedes for the Finn to let Hamilton through was essential, since Bottas’ chances of becoming World Champion are far smaller than Hamilton’s.
“It is very important because statistically his odds to win the championship are very small compared to Lewis, who is very much in the fight,” said Wolff of the decision to swap their drivers around.
“And we have discussed that, and as tough as it is for a driver, there is no room for margin here in this year’s Championship.”
These are crucial times for Bottas, who now has just the Hungarian Grand Prix to go before Formula 1 heads into the summer break, at which point Mercedes will deliberate whether to retain Bottas for 2022 or give his seat to their junior driver George Russell.
Wolff has hinted the decision will be made public around the time of the Belgian Grand Prix, the first race after the summer break.