Toto Wolff said his motivational radio messages to Valtteri Bottas may change in the future, after his pace “flatlined” at the Portuguese Grand Prix.
With Bottas trying to make his way back Max Verstappen after being passed by the Red Bull driver, Wolff came onto team radio to say: “Hunt him down, Valtteri, you’re the quickest car.”
This follows the Mercedes team principal giving his man the hurry-up as he was out of position behind slower cars at Imola, with a simple: “Come ON Valtteri.” which was played on the live TV broadcast of the race.
In Portugal however, an exhaust sensor problem meant that he could not muster the pace from his Mercedes to get past Verstappen and back up to P2 in the race, eventually coming home in P3.
Wolff said he and Bottas spoke about the messages and he may reconsider how they communicate going forward.
“We discussed it, and I enjoy it also, because I’m so passionate about things that having a release valve to Valtteri [is good],” he said, per Autosport.
“I thought it works well. It actually didn’t work well this time, so I maybe need to shut up next time, or at least discuss it with him. I need to speak to him again. He’s mentally strong, when you saw how he recovered from last weekend [at Imola].
“He was really catching up, really hunting him down, but when I came on the radio, it kind of flatlined. So maybe not in the future anymore.”
— Valtteri Bottas (@ValtteriBottas) May 3, 2021
Bottas spoke of his support of receiving the messages from his team principal however, with the Finn saluting the motivational intentions behind Wolff’s radio interventions during races.
“There’s been many times that he’s opened the radio to say something,” Bottas said. “It’s all supportive and it shows there’s the support and the passion behind, and it never hurts.
“Obviously I’m always giving it every single bit I have on track, but yeah, it’s good.”
After Bottas earned his 17th pole position in Formula 1 on Saturday, he was ultimately passed by team-mate Lewis Hamilton and jumped by Verstappen.
A report emerged on Wednesday that Bottas could potentially be replaced at Mercedes by George Russell before the end of the season if his lack of pace continues, but Wolff was sympathetic for the situation the Finn found himself in in at Portimao.
“He’s put it on pole, and had a very solid race, he led,” Wolff explained. “It’s clear when you are in the front and just kicking a hole in the air, and the car behind you has DRS, that’s very difficult.
“At that moment, Lewis opened up a bit of a gap, and was gone. But he controlled Max well. We lost the undercut, that was unfortunate, and then we let him down with the engine, that went into a safety mode.
“So all in all, I think like many times, it could have worked for Valtteri. We were pushing hard and continue to support him, and next time we’ll see what he’s capable of doing in Barcelona.”