After Lewis Hamilton wrapped up his fifth World Driver’s Championship, the Mercedes F1 team also wrapped up its Constructors Championship. All in all, it was a very successful season for the team. However, a lot of critics raised an eyebrow towards how they used the team’s other driver, Valtteri Bottas to help Hamilton win the championship. He was infamously asked to give up first place to Hamilton during the Russian Grand Prix and he received the short end of the straw when it came to strategic decisions throughout the season. This has led to widespread speculation that Hamilton is the designated number one, ‘alpha’ driver on the team and Bottas is there to play a supporting, ‘beta’role.
Team boss Toto Wolff however, believes otherwise. In an interview with Autosport, he insisted that Bottas and Hamilton are both ‘alphas’ and the team wouldn’t have won the title without Bottas. Here’s what he said: “To strike the right balance between having two alpha pilots in the car, that are able to push each other, but equally maintain a positive dynamic within the team, a productive working environment is key.
Valtteri, even with his bad luck, never did allow the spirit and the mindset to drop within the organisation.
He was always capable to maintain us in high spirits. You see drivers when they lose the ability to win the championship, the whole thing goes down the drain and it becomes negative, and they become dysfunctional.
Valtteri, until the very end, kept us in a positive place. He didn’t feel negative within the group, but kept the energy level highs. This is why he contributed to both these world championship titles.
I think he performed at a higher level in the first half of the season, and that is reflected in the points.
He would have been leading the championship after Baku, but the moment you take away the ability to win the world championship for a driver who is so focused on becoming a world champion if he in a Mercedes, that has a negative impact.
That has certainly impacted Valtteri, even if he says ‘No, I am fine’, because he is a fighter.
I am sure that it is a big blow that you have to digest and he has not let this negatively affect the team.
He needs some time off to recharge the batteries and come back again for another world championship.”