Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says Valtteri Bottas needs to improve his driving when he is following another car closely, after finishing second in the Italian Grand Prix.
Bottas was running third on the road to leader Charles Leclerc and teammate Lewis Hamilton for much of Sunday’s race, but extended his first stint in order to have fresh tires towards the end. Closing in rapidly on the front two, Bottas passed Hamilton when the championship leader made a mistake at Turn 1 and then caught Leclerc but couldn’t get close enough to make an overtaking attempt, something Wolff feels the Finn needs to work on.
“Charles was fending off Lewis who was all over him for many laps,” Wolff said. “It would be difficult if the best guy can’t make a real move.
“It looks like (Bottas) struggles a little bit when he is in the wake of a car, trying to extract the maximum. Lewis in that position is able to get closer and put himself in a position to go for a move. It is something he has got to work on but on the positive side his racing was great (at Monza). He was really fast. Probably in pure race time the fastest car.”
Despite seeing room for improvement from Bottas, Wolff says Mercedes did not have the right package to fight effectively with Ferrari at Monza, where the Scuderia’s straight-line speed advantage proved crucial.
“I think we knew that we didn’t have the right package for Spa and Monza and actually second and third was an optimum result for us on the grid. I said if we finished the race in the positions we started we’d probably take it. As racers, at the end there is the feeling of unhappiness.
“You are trying to follow a car, DRS wide open, a long straight and you are not able to get close — you feel like you are not fighting with the right weapons. But in context I don’t want to take anything away from Ferrari or Charles. They had the strongest package and an upcoming great and hard-driving young man. You have to give them the credit.”