Valtteri Bottas still needs to get “the tick of a killer,” says Mercedes Team Boss Toto Wolff. While admitting that Bottas is off his slump, Wolff hoped the Finn develops a stronger edge to win the races.
Bottas won the pole position at Interlagos, but he could not defend his lead and was beaten to the checkered flags by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel who was 2.7s faster than the Finn.
Although both Mercedes and Ferrari were at a similar pace at Interlagos, Bottas lost the chance to win the race when he experienced too much wheelspin away from the line and could not stop Vettel from taking the lead at Turn 1.
In contrast to Bottas, his teammate Lewis Hamilton started from the pits and sliced through the middle order and reached P4. The Briton ending just 5.4 seconds behind Vettel has given rise to the opinion that Bottas should have been able to put a better fight to win the race.
Wolff conceded that Bottas has a pace deficit when compared to Hamilton, but the gap is not high enough to be of concern, especially in last Sunday’s race.
After the summer break, Bottas had a tough time matching Hamilton’s pace. But last weekend, he went toe to toe with the four-time world champion and seemed to have made some progress. But he still lacks Hamilton’s killer instinct, Wolff added.
“I think Lewis the whole year has been rock-and-roll, and Valtteri has recovered slowly but still needs the tick of a killer,” said Wolff.
“But you must not underestimate that in traffic against the Ferraris it was pretty difficult.
“You can see that at the end, when Ferrari switched the engine on, there was not much difference between the cars. Therefore, you cannot expect easy overtakes.”
The team knew Bottas may not be able to overtake Ferrari and thus bet on taking an early pit stop to take away the lead from the German.
“Valtteri had a solid race. He lost it at the start,” said Wolff. “The initial getaway was good, but there was too much wheelspin through the gears and if the gap is so close between the cars, then there is not a lot in it.
“Our undercut was a little move of desperation because we couldn’t get too close, and we knew that probably it lacked half a second – but nevertheless we gave it a go and the result was as expected.”