Budapest – A disappointed Valtteri Bottas said he was hurt to be described as a “sensational wingman” by Mercedes chief Toto Wolff following team-mate Lewis Hamilton’s victory in Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
The Finn, who like Hamilton agreed a new contract with the team only two weeks ago, had believed he could race to win, but was forced into a damage limitation race after an early pit stop.
Team boss Wolff said: “It wasn’t realistic for us to win. It is one of our weakest tracks. We expected damage limitation, rather than taking the points.
“It feels a little bitter-sweet. I’m really happy for Lewis. I just feel sad for Valtteri. He deserved P2 because he was such a sensational wingman. That would’ve been nice.”
Bottas, who finished fifth after a late pit stop following two collisions while running on severely worn old tyres, was upset when Wolff’s comments were put to him.
“Well, first of all, wingman hurts,” he said.
“Second, I don’t see any positives in this race for me. It was a disappointing result. We had to pit early to cover Kimi (Raikkonen). Still, 20 laps before the end, I was feeling ok.
“We could control the pace, but then the rear tyres started to go and I tried to defend as best I could and, in the end, I just ended up being a mess with a broken car.”
Bottas added that he wanted to discuss his perceived role as a ‘wingman’ in the team, or as a driver to be used tactically to help Hamilton’s bid for a fifth world title.
“We need to speak after this race. For this half of the year, the points gap is very big.”
He was candid about his collisions with Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo on Sunday.
“With Sebastian, he had a good run in Turn Two. I still had my nose inside and he was on the outside. He turned in early and there was nowhere to go. I was the only one damaged, which was fair enough.
“With Daniel, it was a similar thing. I was next to him on the inside and I was locking up, but he still turned in and then we touched.”
“Vettel, who finished second behind Hamilton, said: “His tyres were getting worse and worse and I was quite confident I could get him. When I was hit, from behind, I was not sure what had happened. I was lucky the car was not broken and I could carry on.”
Later Sunday, Bottas was given a 10-second time penalty for his collision with Ricciardo although the sanction did not affect his finishing position of fifth.
Hungarian Grand Prix results on Sunday:
1. Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes) 1hr 37:16.427, 2. Sebastian Vettel (GER/Ferrari) at 17.123, 3. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN/Ferrari) 20.101, 4. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Red Bull-Renault) 46.419, 5. Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Mercedes) 50.000, 6. Pierre Gasly (FRA/Toro Rosso-Honda) 1:13.273, 7. Kevin Magnussen (DEN/Haas-Ferrari) one lap, 8. Fernando Alonso (ESP/McLaren-Renault) one lap, 9. Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP/Renault) one lap, 10. Romain Grosjean (FRA/Haas-Ferrari) one lap, 11. Brendon Hartley (NZL/Toro Rosso-Honda) one lap, 12. Nico Hulkenberg (GER/Renault) one lap, 13. Esteban Ocon (FRA/Force India-Mercedes) one lap, 14. Sergio Perez (MEX/Force India-Mercedes) one lap, 15. Marcus Ericsson (SWE/Sauber-Ferrari) two laps, 16. Sergey Sirotkin (RUS/Williams-Mercedes) two laps, 17. Lance Stroll (CAN/Williams-Mercedes) two laps
Did not finish: Charles Leclerc (MON/Sauber-Ferrari), Max Verstappen (NED/Red Bull-Renault), Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL/McLaren-Renault)
World championship standings
1. Lewis Hamilton (GBR) 213 pts, 2. Sebastian Vettel (GER) 189, 3. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) 146, 4. Valtteri Bottas (FIN) 132, 5. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) 118, 6. Max Verstappen (NED) 105, 7. Nico Hulkenberg (GER) 52, 8. Kevin Magnussen (DEN) 45, 9. Fernando Alonso (ESP) 44, 10. Sergio Perez (MEX) 30, 11. Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) 30, 12. Esteban Ocon (FRA) 29, 13. Pierre Gasly (FRA) 26, 14. Romain Grosjean (FRA) 21, 15. Charles Leclerc (MON) 13, 16. Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) 8, 17. Marcus Ericsson (SWE) 5, 18. Lance Stroll (CAN) 4, 19. Brendon Hartley (NZL) 2
1. Mercedes 345 pts, 2. Ferrari 335, 3. Red Bull 223, 4. Renault 82, 5. Haas 66, 6. Force India 59, 7. McLaren-Renault 52, 8. Toro Rosso-Honda 28, 9. Sauber 18, 10. Williams 4