Wolff: Bottas needs to challenge for title
5 January 2018 – Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says that Valtteri Bottas needs to challenge for the title in 2018 and has backed him to deliver a stronger second season with the team.
Bottas joined Mercedes from Williams for 2017, following Nico Rosberg's retirement as World Champion, and experienced a mixed first season onboard the Silver Arrows.
He classified third in the standings, with three victories and four pole positions, but finished almost 60 points adrift of team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who stormed to a fourth crown.
After his hopes of fighting for the 2017 title faded amid a tough post-summer break spell, Wolff reckons Bottas has what it takes to put together a more consistent challenge this year.
"That's what he has to do," Wolff told ESPN, on Bottas challenging for the title.
"We have seen some highlights in Sochi and in Austria and then after the summer Lewis came back very strong and the step that Lewis made up, Valtteri went backwards.
"He recovered at the end of the season and he is a Finn with a strong never-give-up mentality – Sisu.
"I expect him to come back strong with all he learning he has done during the season against the best Formula 1 driver of the current day and age."
Wolff ruled out Bottas playing any mind games in a bid to overcome Hamilton.
"That's not at all Valtteri's style," he commented.
"Valtteri wants to do it on the track in the best possible way and he has driving skills that have worked out for him at certain circuits where he was the one that set the benchmark.
"Valtteri will improve his weaknesses and continue to work on his strengths.
"What he wants is to be benchmarked against a four-time World Champion.
"If he can step up and challenge Lewis he has his place among the greatest drivers in Formula 1, [and] if he doesn't he's going to know it and there is no excuse."