Mercedes play down benign Bottas defence vs. Verstappen in Austria

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff isn't reading too much into Valtteri Bottas' weak defence versus Max Verstappen during the Austrian Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver cruised past the Finn into Turn 3 on his charge to victory in Spielberg on what was a difficult day for the German manufacturer due to cooling issues.

It was a moment which for some highlighted how Bottas' early form in 2019 has tailed off, however, Wolff suggested defending longer was simply delaying the inevitable.

“You can defend like a lion but if you have a car that is one and a half to two seconds slower, it’s only a matter of time before you get eaten,” said the Mercedes boss to Motorsport-Total.

“You also saw how quickly Max drove to Charles.

“If Valtteri had not been overtaken by Verstappen so quickly, he would have lost even more time and would probably have been beaten by Sebastian [Vettel] at the end of the race.”

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Regardless of his championship status versus Lewis Hamilton, Bottas is still under pressure to produce results with his future at Mercedes uncertain.

Esteban Ocon remains present as the current reserve driver while recent speculation has linked Verstappen himself to Valtteri's seat.

“Every Formula 1 driver knows that if he does not deliver the performance then there is always someone else," Wolff admitted.

“Valtteri knows he has to perform, he’s in a team where he can win a championship and he claims he wants too.

“We saw an incredibly strong Valtteri in this first third of the season," he noted.

“In qualifying, he is actually on par with Lewis, so I think he just has to be aware of the power and strength he has in himself and put that on the track.”