Toto Wolff has key reason for keeping Valtteri Bottas as Lewis Hamilton partner
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Former Formula One driver Jolyon Palmer says he understands why Mercedes chief Toto Wolff has stuck with Valtteri Bottas, despite the Finn’s inability so far to grab a world title.
Bottas has been alongside Lewis Hamilton for four years now, and heads into his fifth year with Mercedes with a string of second-placed finishes in the driver’s standings, constantly finishing behind his team-mate.
Hamilton meanwhile has won back to back titles with Mercedes since 2014, only once being stopped by his then team-mate Nico Rosberg.
Now with seven titles under his belt, much speculation has been swirling about if he will remain at Mercedes for 2022, with Bottas in a similar situation after both drivers opted for a one year contract.
And for Wolff, consistency is key from Bottas in the fight for the Constructors’ Championship, and his presence is much more help than Max Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Perez.
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“If Bottas had been asked to give up a win on Sunday then I’m sure there would be some question marks again, and maybe he wouldn’t have obliged at all. But this call from Mercedes helped Hamilton to win the race, at no cost to Bottas – he was pretty set in third whatever happened,” Palmer told Formula1.com.
“Bottas has been retained by Mercedes for four years now, and that is because Toto Wolff clearly appreciates his value as a second driver – being quick enough to help so often and even win when Hamilton isn’t on top form.
“The contrast to the Red Bull second driver situation has been clear over the last few seasons, and was again on Sunday as Bottas at least fell within the pit stop window of the leaders at the final stop, unlike [Sergio] Perez.
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“Despite being held up by [Charles] Leclerc early on, he had the pace to stay only 10 seconds adrift for much of the race.
“But in Barcelona, you could argue Bottas was actually more helpful to Verstappen than Hamilton in the Grand Prix. Hamilton winning has meant Mercedes can gloss over the fact, but if he had narrowly missed out, there would have been a serious fallout from the situation.”
Hamilton has now put himself forward as the favourite to win the title, with Verstappen trailing the Briton by 14 points with 19 races still to go.
Formula One heads to the streets of Monaco next for round five of the championship, with Bottas a huge 47 points adrift of his Mercedes team-mate Hamilton.
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