Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff believes Valtteri Bottas' performance at the Japanese Grand Prix was impacted by the events of Sochi a week earlier.
The Finn never really challenged Lewis Hamilton at any point during the Suzuka weekend and would finish almost 13 seconds behind in the race, later admitting it was his "job" to follow his teammate.
Even so, his Austrian boss does think the mental effect of giving up victory because of team orders in Russia was apparent in Japan.
“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 will automatically cause a little bit of a mental setback,” he told Autosport.
“He says he hasn’t got that. but I believe that will play a little part of it."
At the same time, however, Wolff maintains that Bottas fully understands why the decision was taken back in Sochi.
"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’," he claimed.
“‘I need to outperform Lewis in 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’."
The Austrian does think Bottas remains in good form though and tipped him to finally end his win drought dating back to Abu Dhabi last year.
“I think Valtteri will get one victory [this year] and don’t you worry, I think Valtteri will get many more victories in his life,” he added.
“He will go into his third season with Mercedes next year and will make another step.
“He will have learned and improved and see himself as a strong challenger for the championship and it’s exactly what we want. So that will come.”
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