Scottish Daily Mail


Hamilton and Wolff back Finn despite engineers losing faith

- JONATHAN McEVOY in Barcelona

TOTO WOlff has told Valtteri Bottas that he won’t sack him this season no matter how badly he performs. The Mercedes team principal was responding to Sportsmail’s revelation that some engineers back in the factory have lost faith in the finn, especially having seen George Russell dramatical­ly outperform him when he stepped in last season as cover for the Covidaffli­cted lewis Hamilton.

‘Unless Valtteri gets flu and can’t drive, he is going to be in the car,’ declared Wolff. ‘We see no reason to change. It is Red Bull who like to play musical chairs. No change expected.’

Asked about Red Bull’s breezier approach to hiring and firing, Wolff added: ‘If you are not happy with your wife and you start to look for other ones, it is not going to improve the relationsh­ip.

‘I try to work on the relationsh­ip with my driver and achieve the best results with him before I start to flirt with somebody else.’

Bottas is fourth in the drivers’ standings after three races, with two third places and a DNf, while Hamilton has won twice going into tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix.

Clearly, Wolff believes the HamiltonBo­ttas combinatio­n is good enough to deliver an eighth straight constructo­rs’ title. That may be so, but it amounts to a depressing­ly dull modus operandi.

It is ironic that the bigwigs spend aeons discussing how to spice up the action — such as introducin­g sprint qualifying — while the most attractive innovation sits right under their noses: Hamilton versus Russell, the older man seeking further validation of his enduring talents by trying to see off the thrusting youngster desperate to escape the leash.

Of all the things said and written about Bottas this week, perhaps the most telling was Hamilton’s vote of confidence in him.

‘Valtteri has been an amazing team-mate,’ said the seventime world champion. ‘People need to give him a break.’

They were kind and loyal words, but unwittingl­y illuminati­ng. for sympathy is the one emotion an elite sportsman does not wish to attract.

During press conference­s alongside Hamilton and Max Verstappen, all talk of the title fight takes place around Bottas, as if he isn’t there. He has been battered too often by Hamilton.

In practice yesterday, it was advantage Mercedes, with the Red Bulls of Verstappen and Sergio Perez down in ninth and tenth.

The order at the top was Hamilton... followed by Bottas. If that is how qualifying works out, the Briton will claim the 100th pole of his career.

 ?? DPPI ?? Feeling the heat: Bottas in Barcelona yesterday
DPPI Feeling the heat: Bottas in Barcelona yesterday

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