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Mercedes: Baku loss cost Bottas championship bid

Written by  Nov 16, 2018

Valtteri Bottas would have likely challenged for the Formula 1 title had he not been denied victory in Baku, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes.

The Finn was leading the race on the streets of Azerbaijan's capital in the closing laps but would pick up a puncture from debris not cleared under a Safety Car and resulting in his retirement.

It was one of several instances of bad luck with a win in China also looking likely before a Safety Car allowed Daniel Ricciardo on better tyres to come through the field.

As results slipped, Bottas played an increasing 'wingman' role, as it was dubbed, to teammate Lewis Hamilton but it was Baku that Wolff believes had the biggest effect on the 29-year-old.

"It would have been 25 points more for Valtteri that one race," said the Austrian. "I think we would have gotten the Constructors’ Championship [sooner] but he would have been within a shot of the championship [this year]."

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Following the confirmation of a fifth consecutive double championship success last weekend in Brazil, Wolff was also keen to stress the contribution made by Bottas.

"His contribution was enormous," he declared. "He's kept his dignity and played a big role in supporting the team, without losing his stature as a racing driver and as a racing driver that can win.

"I think he's (had) an enormous mental struggle to know that you can't win anymore and you need to support your teammate, and he's achieved that," Toto added.

"And I think he will come back strong next year and will give Lewis and all of the others a run for their money."

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