Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff confirmed that Walteri Bottas will remain with the team in 2021, explaining to the Finnish driver that his radio communication during qualifying was part of the new style of communication between the two.
Wolf opened his team’s radio station for Bottas last lap of qualifying to tell his driver Give it all you’ve got, Waltery. Bottas continued to qualify for second place after Max Verstappen and beat teammate Lewis Hamilton by 0.05 seconds.
The Finnish rider was under pressure last week after he was replaced by Hamilton – George Russell during the Saheer Grand Prix.
The Mercedes team manager explained that negotiations with the driver this week had resulted in Bottas demanding more endorsements from Wolff in the future.
It’s difficult because I’ve never spoken to drivers before, because in my experience [as a driver] I found it a bit distracting, but everyone is different, Wolf said. We had a good discussion with him, and when the Championship was lost to [Hamilton] it was always difficult to manage, he said: Let’s talk some more.
Every driver is different, and we have strict intercom protocols that we follow, and I remember when I was a driver, I got angry at the guys who bent over in the cockpit and shook my hand before I left. In this respect, I will always adapt – and the team will always adapt – to the driving style of the driver.
That’s why I’ve never been on the radio unless there’s a critical situation in the race.
I discussed with Walteri how we can improve our communication, and he said he would like to see more open discussion and communication, even in the car, as something he wants to entertain. I asked: Are you sure? Because I don’t want to get in his way, and he said no, I’m ready, and I thought about it.
In answer to a question about a radio message, Bottas added… He can talk to us whenever he wants. The past few days we’ve been talking about different things.
You know, we’re a team, we support each other the way we want. If you can support another person on the team with support or specific words, you will do so, and I will do the same for each member of the team. Nothing else, I think it’s more personal.
Russell’s successful performance as a replacement for Hamilton at the Sakhir Grand Prix led to speculation that a 22-year-old Bottas could replace him next year.
Wolff, however, confirmed that the Bottas contract signed in August 2021 will remain in force for the next season.
It will be in our car [in 2021], I can confirm that, Wolf said. We have a contract with Valtteri, and he will drive for us next year.
They have to hit me hard in the hot zone so that one day I can lose my loyalty. I’m as loyal to my two riders as I am to our juniors.
George did phenomenal last weekend and he deserves to be in a nice car one day. He has a contract with Williams for another year, and they welcomed George Mercedes in a very flexible and friendly way this weekend.
Everything will go his way, but in a calm and structured way.
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