Valtteri Bottas will emerge as a “stronger challenger” in Formula 1 after the “mental setback” he has suffered in 2018, according to Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.
Bottas took three wins during his first season as a Mercedes driver but has yet to add to his tally in 2018, though has finished runner-up on seven occasions.
He came close in China and Azerbaijan, while in both Germany and Russia team instructions were issued in favour of Lewis Hamilton.
“I think we have to remind ourselves that for a race driver who is channelling all his efforts into winning races and the championship, if you take that ability away from him, it would automatically cause a little bit of a mental setback,” said Wolff.
“He [Bottas] says he hasn’t got that, but I believe that will play a little part of it.
“He is a tremendous team player, and I really cannot emphasise that enough.
“To give you an example, after Sochi in the evening we had a discussion.
“He said, ‘I completely understand why you did it and where the team’s coming from. If I were in your shoes, I would do exactly the same. I need to outperform Lewis at the beginning of the season and score more victories and put myself in a position to fight for the championship, so don’t worry about me’.
“I think Valtteri will get many more victories in his life and will go into his third season with Mercedes next year and will make another step.
“He will have learnt and improved and exceed himself as a strong challenger for the championship. That’s exactly what we want. That will come.”
Bottas holds third place in the Drivers’ Championship.