Wolff downplays Bottas “wingman” remarks

Toto Wolff on Sunday evening tried to clarify referring to Valtteri Bottas as Lewis Hamilton’s “wingman” in the aftermath of the Hungarian Grand Prix, after the Finn was left fuming by the comments.

The Mercedes boss labelled Bottas a “sensational wingman” for helping to fend off the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen as Lewis Hamilton pulled off an unexpected victory at the Hungaroring, in comments that saw Bottas later tell reporters that it “hurts”.

“First of all, wingman hurts,” Bottas said after finishing in fifth place.

“Second of all, I don’t see any positives in this race for me. I wanted a better result and we thought, in theory, we should have been able to do the one-stop.”

“I think we [Mercedes and I] need to speak after this race,” he added. We are over halfway through the year and the points gap [between Lewis and I] is big so I am sure the team will decide at some point.”

Wolff later tried to clarify his remarks.

“That’s exactly why things that are not being discussed directly face-to-face are being completely spun out of control in the wrong way,” Wolff said.

“In today’s race, starting P2, after lap one, Valtteri’s race was the perfect wingman race – and I don’t mean it in championship terms, because we have no number one, we have no number two, but it was just how he was racing.

“It was, from my standpoint, the best race so far with Mercedes in the last three [two] years.”

Wolff added that the Mercedes team were surprised that the Finn had managed to keep the Ferraris at bay for so long.

“I don’t know how much length the tyre was on but I guess it was around 50 – 54 [laps] – the tyre was completely shot,” Wolff added.

“We were surprised he managed to hold Sebastian and Kimi behind for 25 or so laps and we knew the last five laps would be really critical.

“The bittersweet feeling I have is that he would have deserved to finish P2 – where he has started and where he was after lap one.

“But, are you saying maybe the word wing man doesn’t do him justice? He just drove a sensational race and helped Lewis, in a way, to build the lead.”

Bottas, meanwhile, later changed his tune, insisting he had not asked for a meeting with Wolff.

“I have not called a meeting with the bosses for Toto saying I was the perfect wing man in this race,” he wrote on Twitter.

“There is no need to. I was disappointed with my end-result in the race and saw everything in a negative way for a moment.

“I know what he meant. And he would have said the same about Lewis if he’d be in same situation and had a similar race.

“We are on equal terms and I trust the team 100% on that. All good. We’ll keep pushing! It’ll come.”

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