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Mercedes: Stronger Bottas/ Hamilton rivalry would not be a bad thing

Written by  Nov 27, 2017

Mercedes Motorsport boss Toto Wolff has suggested a stronger battle between Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton may not be a bad thing for the Brackley team in 2018.

The Finn has enjoyed a much more competitive end to the year, scoring two poles and three podiums in the final three races, including beating Hamilton to victory at Sunday's season finale in Abu Dhabi.

While many have put it down to a drop in performance from the Briton which seems to hit him when he wins the world title with races to spare, some are also drawing comparisons to the momentum Nico Rosberg built at the end of 2015, which he then carried into the following year and would help him win his own championship.

A more competitive Bottas also raises the prospect of greater tension inside Mercedes, something that had cleared following his arrival at the start of the year, but Wolff doesn't believe it would completely negative if managed properly.

"I don’t think we need to avoid a stress situation," the Austrian said. "We need to acknowledge if two teammates are fighting for race wins and a championship, that this will be a rivalry.

"We are not trying to build a new family here, we need to be the most effective racing team and an effective racing team needs stress needs disruption as much as it needs calmness and a positive attitude and mindset, but like everything in life you need to find a mix of both, probably the recipe to success."

Wolff is also downplaying the significance of the advantage Mercedes had over their rivals at Yas Marina this past weekend as any kind of indication the Brackley-based team could enjoy more domination in 2018.

"I'm obviously very pleased with the Abu Dhabi result, but you have to be very careful in interpreting the pace here,” he said. “This has been the start of the 2018 season and I am not sure we have seen everything on the cars that will be on the cars next year.

“I just don't feel like we should be tapping ourselves on the shoulder, about how great we were in the last races. I would rather stay sceptical and diligent in leaving no stone unturned and optimising the deficits of the car, but at the end of the day it was the quickest car, it was a capricious diva and we'd like to keep the diva but get rid of her capricious character.”

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