Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says it was ultimately down to Valtteri Bottas making personal improvements to “pull himself out” of a tricky mid-season run and hints it could lead to bigger things.

After the summer break Bottas endured a tough run of results with just two rostrums in the space of six races – while in that stretch Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton won five out of the six races – to demonstrate the biggest gap in performance between the pair in 2017.

While Bottas accepts his performances during that stint weren’t up to standard demanded by Mercedes and team principal Wolff, the Finnish driver battled back over the final three races with two pole positions, two rostrums and a victory in Abu Dhabi. Wolff was thrilled to see Bottas recover in the closing rounds of the championship and hopes it can provide him with timely momentum over the winter.

“I think carrying all of the momentum with a race win through the winter after a difficult time is probably for him just what the doctor ordered,” Wolff said. “The best ones are the ones that recover from bad moments.

“May be in a few years and say this was an important moment for his racing. The only thing we can do as a racing team is to stay transparent and fair to both of them. But eventually they are alone in the car. He pulled himself out of it.”

Wolff explained Bottas never allowed his frustrations to boil over during the mid-season lull but knew behind the scenes the Finnish driver worked tirelessly with his technical staff to resolve his issues around getting the 2017 Pirelli tyres into a working window with the “diva” Mercedes W08 F1 car.

“I could never see visually that it was impacting him. He said that [it did] but I think with the strength of his character he tracked back,” he said. “Every race there was better performances. Brazil qualifying was good, the race less so. But he knew that. Then he delivered an exceptional weekend in Abu Dhabi.”


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