Valtteri Bottas has questioned the timing of his latest mid-race gee-up call from Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.
The World Champions’ team principal has been heard several times over the airwaves this season urging on both Bottas and Lewis Hamilton as they battle to retain both of their titles amid the powerful challenge from Max Verstappen and Red Bull.
For Bottas, the most recent motivational message came in the relatively early stages of the Qatar Grand Prix after he had made a bad start and dropped down the order.
Starting sixth having been given a three-place grid penalty for ignoring yellow flags towards the end of qualifying, the Finn struggled with tyre temperature and wheel-spin off the line and lost five places – whereas Verstappen, one place behind him on the grid, did the exact opposite.
As he found himself running behind rivals who are customarily in the midfield, Bottas received a radio message saying “come on Valtteri, get these cars” from Wolff – who clearly saw points in the Constructors’ Championship slipping away.
P4 for Valtteri Bottas as he passes Lando Norris 👀
And he soon moves up to P3 after Fernando Alonso goes into the pits
— Formula 1 (@F1) November 21, 2021
Ultimately, Bottas did make progress back up the field and even had a podium finish in his sights, until his car sustained a puncture that cost him lots of time and he was called into the pits to retire from F1’s first ever race in Qatar.
Asked if the message from Wolff had come as a surprise, Bottas did suggest it had been unexpected but understood why his boss had done it.
“It’s normal. He’s living in the moment,” said the 32-year-old driver – who is leaving Mercedes at the end of this season to make way for George Russell and joining Alfa Romeo – quoted by GPFans.
“It’s while I was trying to make a move. It was surprising then when I get the [message]…maybe the timing was not right, but no problem.”
Bottas, for whom good luck has been in short supply this year, said his puncture could not have occurred in a worse place on the Losail International Circuit because he had to negotiate nearly a whole lap to get back around to the pits.
“There was no warning, no vibration, the pace was feeling consistent, the grip was okay,” said Bottas. “I didn’t run any wider in the kerbs. It just happened.
“Initially I thought the wind was getting stronger on the main straight but it felt like the car was stable. Then it punctured in the first corner, at the most unlucky point as well just after the pit exit.”
Planet F1 verdict
Bottas on Wolff’s hurry-up call
Valtteri Bottas thinks that Toto Wolff's message was bad timing but understands why.