Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says he had no issue with Valtteri Bottas’ feisty radio messages during the French Grand Prix, welcoming the fact the Finn ‘spoke his mind’.
Bottas was left exposed to severe tyre wear in the latter stages of the race after being the first of the front runners to pit, leaving him to manage a 37-lap stint on hard compound tyres.
This left him unable to defend against a charging Max Verstappen 10 laps from the end, with the Red Bull driver switching to a two-stop strategy before going on to claim his third win of the season.
Mercedes opted to keep Bottas on a one-stop strategy, which left him venting his frustration over team radio: “Why the f**k did nobody listen to me when I said it was a two-stopper?”
Bottas would lose a further position to Sergio Perez in the closing laps, relegating him to fourth place despite radioing his engineer to say his tyres were “f**king finished”.
Speaking after the race, Bottas defended airing his thoughts over team radio, feeling he didn’t go too far with his initial message.
Asked what he made of Bottas’ feistiness, Wolff said he was pleased he didn’t “internalise” his feelings.
“I loved it, that he speaks his mind now, and doesn’t internalise,” Wolff said. “We still believe the one-stop was the better strategy
“But when fighting so strong after the stop, we just stretched the tyre, stressed the tyres too much to make it all the way to the end.”
Bottas was still adamant after the race that moving to a two-stop strategy would have seen him in contention for victory after running close to Verstappen and team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the first half of the race.
Wolff was full of praise for Bottas’ performance despite finishing off the podium, believing his recent displays show he is developing in the “right direction”.
“I still think that he delivered a good race to be honest, because he was right up there with Lewis and Max for large parts of the race,” Wolff said.
“I think the development goes in the right direction, to be honest. Yes, there is still a part, or a gap in tyre management [to Hamilton]. But we’ll look at it in detail in the next few days.
“But I see a real progression with how Valtteri tackles the races, and qualifying, we never doubted.”