Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 June 2019

Valtteri Bottas backed by Toto Wolff to bounce back in F1 title fight in Canada

The Finn trails Mercedes-GP teammate Lewis Hamilton by 17 points after finishing third in Monaco

Valtteri Bottas had a frustrating afternoon in Monaco on Sunday as he finished third. AFP
Valtteri Bottas had a frustrating afternoon in Monaco on Sunday as he finished third. AFP

Mercedes-GP expect an angry Valtteri Bottas to come back strongly after losing ground to teammate Lewis Hamilton in the Formula One drivers' championship through no fault of his own in Monaco on Sunday.

The Finn is now 17 points behind the five-times world champion after finishing third in Monaco following a pitlane collision with Red Bull's Max Verstappen early in the race.

Verstappen was handed a five-second penalty for the unsafe release, a sanction that dropped the Dutchman from second to fourth.

Hamilton won, his fourth victory of the season, with Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel promoted to second after Verstappen's drop, but Wolff expects Bottas to be resurgent at the Canadian Grand Prix on June 8, the next round of the season.

"Valtteri lost a second place, three points, and Mercedes (lost) a one-two," said team principal Toto Wolff.

"From Valtteri’s point of view, he will be gutted. He had the pace on the weekend, he could have been on pole in terms of raw speed and today P2 (second) was the minimum I think. And that P2 was taken away from him.

"The Valtteri of 2019 is going to get out of it stronger," added the Austrian.

Bottas has still finished on the podium in every race so far this season, with Mercedes taking five successive one-twos until Monaco, and has been a different driver to the man who failed to win anything in 2018.

He has two wins and three second places as well as Sunday's third, which was still his first Monaco Grand Prix podium appearance.

"I think he has shown huge resilience and determination in these last races," commented Wolff.

"The speed (in qualifying) was mind-boggling yesterday and I have no doubt about it that it’s going to annoy the hell out of him and he’s going to come back very, very strong in Montreal."

Bottas said his race had been 'a bit of a Sunday drive' after the impact with Verstappen left him with a puncture.

Hamilton though ominously warned Bottas and the rest of the F1 grid there was more to come from him as he believed his start to the season was "average".

Hamilton has four wins and two second places this season, his best ever start to a campaign.

But Hamilton, who traditionally gets stronger as the season goes on, insists he is yet to find top gear.

"I definitely feel that it's been quite an average performance from myself for the first six races," he said.

"I've arrived prepared - the best prepared I could be - but in terms of extracting the true performance from the car, I feel like I've struggled a little bit in these six races."

Hamilton believes that as the campaign goes on and he gets more familiar with this year's car and tyres his pace will increase.

"I guess that's kind of similar to other seasons, but without doubt I am going to improve with the knowledge you gain over the year," he said.

"I hope, at some stage, that I'm able to crack the issues that I've had and get back to the form that I have within me.

"Whether that's the next race or 10 races from now, I can't really say, but I am very, very focused on making sure I rectify those issues."

Updated: May 27, 2019 07:23 PM

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