Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has backed Valtteri Bottas to rebound from his difficult start to the 2021 Formula 1 season, stating the Finn has “enormous speed”.
After the opening four rounds of the year, Bottas is third in the championship standings, 47 points behind team-mate and championship leader Lewis Hamilton.
Bottas’ last race victory came at the Russian Grand Prix in 2020, 12 races ago, and he has been forced to settle for three third-place finishes and a DNF to start the 2021 campaign.
“In mental, as I keep saying, he’s very strong, and he’s in a good place,” Wolff said.
“He keeps scoring, Saturday there were three drivers within a tenth, the weekend before he was on pole. His speed is enormous.”
Bottas was out of contention for the race win on Sunday in Barcelona, as he was stuck behind Charles Leclerc during the opening phase of the race.
“When things go wrong at the start or you’re in a gaggle with other cars, and you lose time to the leaders, that’s basically KO,” Wolff said.
“And behind Charles [on Sunday], I don’t know how much he lost, 20 seconds or so, and then obviously it’s where you are, third on the road at best.”
Bottas added that losing track position to Leclerc at the start of the race meant “trouble”, and says he will review his start for future reference.
“I think that if I’d been one tenth quickest yesterday, then the race would have probably been a bit different and a bit of a better battle,” Bottas said.
“Today the main issue was that in Lap One, Turn 3, Charles got by and here if you lose track position, it definitively means trouble.
“It was costing me a lot of time in the first stint, and, also, on the Safety Car re-start I couldn’t get him, so I was stuck behind him, losing ground to Lewis and Max, so that was it, really.
“To be honest, I didn’t see Charles in Turn 3, once I saw him, around the outside, going a lot quicker than me, it was too late. So, I need to review that.”