Interview with Toto Wolf about Valtteri Bottas
Finnish Formula 1 podcast Formucalast had the opportunity to interview Toto Wolff about Valtteri Bottas and his move to Mercedes F1 team. Below you can read a short transcribing of the interview as well as listen to the complete audio version.
Oskari: The process was peculiar from the outside as Toto Wolff represents both Mercedes F1 team and Valtteri Bottas. Talk us through the process.
Toto: When I joined Mercedes I made it very clear and transparent that I have some certain interests in the motorsport world. What was agreed then was that if there ever was a driver that I was in a commercial relationship with would drive for Mercedes, this would mean the end of this relationship.
So in 2013 we agreed with Valtteri also that if there ever was a situation like this, I would need to step out from the relationship. And now this has happened and I am leaving the management group behind Valtteri.
In the last weeks Valtteri became very much the choice of the team, especially the engineering were attracted to his skills. The background Valtteri has in racing, and especially his impressive junior career. Further we agreed internally that the world has not seen the best performance level of Bottas yet as he had not had the chance to pilot a competitive car.
Oskari: Would it be fair to say that Valtteri was your number one choice from the very beginning?
Toto: He was certainly one of the top options we had from the very beginning. We obviously first had to explore the driver market for feasible choices. There were some people who we asked, but were not available. But even among these options Valtteri was in the top group from the beginning.
Oskari: You said that you think that you have not yet seen the best from Valtteri. I agree as he has not had a car that would be a top contender in Formula 1 so far. But do you think we will see a different style of Driving from Valtteri? Maybe a bit more aggressive?
Toto: I think it should change anything as a personality. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses are is important, particularly for a F1 driver. I don't believe his driving style will change.
I see his driving is good enough and his talent and intelligence is on a high level. Therefore I believe he just needs a quick car, which he occasionally had in the Williams team in 2014 and 2015 which allowed him to provide a real challenge to the competition even for victories.
Valtteri is aware of his situation and is committed to taking on the challenge and giving his all.
Oskari: How much did you consult Lewis Hamilton regarding the decision for the other driver for Mercedes Formula 1 team?
Toto: I had a chat with Lewis before christmas (2016) about many topics, and I filled him on the choices that we had. He said that Valtteri is a nice guy and one of the drivers he actually gets along with well. He said he felt that Bottas is a good option.
Oskari: A lot was said and written about the relation of Lewis and Nico. Some for good reason, some for maybe not so good reason. How do you see the chemistry between Lewis and Valtteri? You know both of them, how do you think this will work out?
Toto: I think you need to have a good dynamic in the team. You need to have different characters like Valtteri and Lewis. It was already good with Lewis and Nico, but the was some baggage from the past as they've known each other for a long time.
In this case it is a completely new relationship for the two. There is no background from the past. Both are certainly competitive and if the car is good there will be difficult moments.
But for the team the two personalities I think are good and can be better than in the past. But I could be wrong, I don't know.