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"It's between Esteban and Valtteri," says Wolff

NEWS STORY
04/08/2019

While some drivers appear to assist their team bosses, come silly season, by handing in their own heads on a plate, courtesy of unforced errors, lack of pace, clashes with teammates and publicly criticising their team, spare a thought for Toto Wolff who will spend the summer break deciding on his driver line-up for next season.

On paper it's a simple choice between Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Ocon, however, such decisions are never really simple.

"It's between Esteban and Valtteri," the Austrian told reporters. "We've been discussing it for a long time within the team and I've been wrestling within myself on what is the right thing for the team and what is the right thing for the drivers.

"If we were to have only one of them it would be a no-brainer to have them in the car," he continued. "And in a way both deserve the seat. Esteban because he has been in tough situations and he certainly has the motivation and the energy and the talent to be in a Mercedes. While on the other side Valtteri has the experience and has proven again how fast he can go. And he's tremendously supportive in developing the team together with Lewis. There's lots of pros, some cons.

"In the end what we decided is to really don't think about it more, and we did already, wait for the Budapest weekend to pass, stick our heads together over the summer and come to a decision that is best for the team and best for both, because we care for both."

Of course, that decision making process wasn't helped by the fact that Bottas pulled out all the stops and qualified second, just 0.018s behind Max Verstappen, but ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Whether the Finn goes on to convert that front row qualifying position into a win today remains to be seen, and that is precisely the problem. Week in, week out, we don't know whether we're going to get Bottas 1.0 or the porridge-eating version 2.0, the version that is more than able to challenge for wins and possibly the title.

On the other hand, while super-fast and talented, Ocon can be hot-headed and is not seen as quite the team player that Bottas is, Hamilton admitting that he would prefer to have the Finn retained.

"If you can't provide an opportunity for a young driver then you've got to make compromises," said Wolff of Ocon, a Mercedes junior who has been linked with Nico Hulkenberg's seat at Renault. "And certainly I wouldn't, sabotage Esteban's career by blocking him and not releasing him to drive in Formula 1.

"He is a great personality as he said he would understand if we were to do this and if needed he'd stay in the Mercedes family and do something else with us. But I think he must be given the opportunity in Formula 1, either with us or with another team."

Another Mercedes junior is George Russell, but Wolff believes that promoting the youngster too soon could be damaging.

"I don't think that you are given the possibility to learn in a Mercedes," he said. "You are being put in a car that is able to win races and championships in a high-pressure environment. It can go terribly wrong for a young driver that has the talent to become a world champion if he's thrown in that environment next to the best driver of his generation, who has been with us for seven years. And I wouldn't want to burn George."

Check out our Sunday gallery from the Hungaroring, here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by hussainahm, 04/08/2019 15:45

"I doubt they’ll drop Bottas, he’s not as much slower than Lewis as Gasley is compared to Verstappen."

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2. Posted by Tom2681, 04/08/2019 13:43

"I'm sure that Ocon would be faster than Bottas in the car, but why change something that's working? If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

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3. Posted by *TestaRossa*, 04/08/2019 9:47

"Ask Perez about this Estaban Maldonado . LOL"

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