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Wolff explains Bottas radio call

NEWS STORY
12/12/2020

Toto Wolff has explained his radio call to Valtteri Bottas as the Finn was about to begin his final flying lap in today's qualifying session.

It is almost unheard of for the Austrian to talk over the radio during sessions, but as Bottas prepared to begin his all-important final lap, Wolff's distinctive tone came over the airwaves.

"All you have, Valtteri," he said.

Speaking after the session in which Bottas momentarily took pole, only to be denied when Max Verstappen went 0.025s quicker, Wolff explained the reason for his message.

"It's always tricky when you talk to the driver before qualifying or the race," he told Sky F1. "But it's something we discussed. And he said, I need a little feedback from you, it is always good.

"It's difficult because I've never talked to the drivers, because I felt that from my experience it is a bit distracting," he admitted. "But everybody's different and with him we had a good talk.

"Obviously, when the championship was lost, it's always difficult to cope with it. And that's why he said, let's talk a little bit more."

The message comes at a time there is media speculation over the Finn's seat at Mercedes following a disappointing outing at the Sakhir Grand Prix in which he was effectively beaten by Lewis Hamilton's stand-in, George Russell. Indeed, ahead of this weekend's event Bottas admitted that he has to do better.

Asked about today's call from Wolff, Bottas said: "He can always talk to us if he wants. The last days, we've had a chat about different things, and we're a team. We support each other if we feel like.

"And if you can support another person in the team with encouragement or certain words, you do it. It would be the same for any team member. Nothing more than that, it's a more personal thing."

Ironically, the 0.025s deficit to Verstappen in Q3 is exactly the same as the deficit when one compares the Finn's best time of the weekend, posted in FP3, to the Red Bull driver's pole-winning time.

Wolff took the opportunity to dismiss the speculation over Bottas' seat in 2021.

"We have a contract with Valtteri and he is going to race next year," said the Austrian. "You need to kick me quite hard in a sensitive zone for me to ever lose my loyalty. I am loyal to my two race drivers in the same way I am loyal to our junior drivers.

"George did a phenomenal job last weekend," he admitted, "and he deserves to be in a great car one day. He has a contract with Williams for one more year and they have been very flexible and accommodating in giving George to Mercedes this other weekend.

"Everything is going to go its way, but calmly and in a structured way," he insisted.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Yas Island, here.

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