Valtteri Bottas’ dominant victory in Turkey, according to Toto Wolff, may not be his last for Mercedes, and it shows the “vital role” he can play in both Formula One title battles.
Bottas won his first race in over a year in the Turkish Grand Prix last weekend, taking the finish nearly 14 seconds ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in damp environments.
By denying Verstappen victory, Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton remained only six points behind Verstappen in the drivers’ standings, having fought his way from 11th on the grid to fifth after a grid penalty.
Bottas’ performance came at the same track where he had one of his lowest moments with Mercedes, spinning six times in the Istanbul Park race in 2020.
It was also an important statement from the Finn ahead of his departure from Mercedes at the end of the year, ensuring that he would not have to endure another winless season with the German manufacturer.
Bottas’ triumph “may not be his last this season,” Mercedes F1 chief Wolff said, praising his “unbelievable” performance throughout the weekend in Turkey.
“He started with an easiness from pole and pulled away,” Wolff said. “He was the quickest man on-track, the best in terms of tyre management. He kept it always under control, scored fastest lap. This is a 10 out of 10.
“It can play a vital role in the constructors’ championship, but also supporting Lewis. Because only Valtteri’s performance prevented Max to score eight more points.”
Despite being joined on the podium by Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, Bottas’ victory and bonus point for the fastest lap extended Mercedes’ lead in the manufacturers’ championship.
Mercedes leads Red Bull by 36 points heading into the last six races of the season, aiming for a record-extending eighth consecutive constructors’ championship.
It’s a stark contrast to the summer months, when Red Bull appeared to have a significant advantage over Mercedes in terms of speed.
While Wolff believed the team had a better understanding of their W12 car now, he did not believe it could be said with “total conviction” that it was the faster car.
“I believe that we have a really good package now,” Wolff said. “The car is competitive and was very competitive [in Turkey], and if it wasn’t for a grid penalty, I think we could have had every chance to finish first and second, and eight points more.
“I’m looking carefully optimistic into the future. Austin is a track that we like. And it’s another opportunity.
“But I’m under no illusion that it is going to go very much to the end in the drivers’ championship.”
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