Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff says his team must find a way in the future to sustain the energy levels of its drivers when the world title is no longer at stake.
Lewis Hamilton wrapped up the 2020 world championship at the Turkish GP at Istanbul with three races to spare. The achievement marked the Briton’s seventh title but also a change of mindset for teammate Valtteri Bottas.
The Finn endured a difficult weekend two weeks later in Bahrain where he finished a lowly P8 and an even more challenging time in the Sakhir GP in which he was outpaced on race day by Mercedes stand-in George Russell.
Wolff believes his team needs to pay more attention to its drivers’ psychology and confidence levels and refrain from judging them on a specific or disappointing performance.
“What we need to look at, and what we need to work out collaboratively, is that for drivers, it’s all about winning the world championship,” Wolff told Motorsport.com.
“And when that has been decided, we need to find out how to keep the energy levels high. But the margin between winning and losing, between hero and zero, is so small in this sport.
“If he [Bottas] would have led the way in Bahrain 2 [Sakhir GP] and won the race, nobody would have criticized Valtteri. And that was down to a good or less good start. He was also catching up in the race before our unfortunate pitstop incident.
“So we mustn’t swing between exuberance and depression in terms of our judgement on drivers, but kind of see the average and help the drivers to have confidence, to develop their abilities and achieve sustainable performances.”
Read also: Bottas has no need to justify his 2020 form – Hamilton
Wolff was quick to offer Bottas mitigating circumstances and downplay the Finn’s troubles in the final events of the season, insisting they were not truly representative.
“Valtteri has had highs, but more downs this year than he deserved,” added Wolff. “And the downs were not due to a lack of performance, the downs were simply unlucky.
“How many times has he been in the lead of a race that he would have probably won before a red flag was thrown? Or before he suffered from a tyre puncture? Multiple occasions.
“I think he could have had a handful more victories. And the championship could have stayed more open much, much longer.
“He performs on a very high level. There’s no reason to question him if he has those fantastic weekends with top performances.”
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