Before engines fire-up in earnest, Mercedes Toto Wolff has declared that there will be no team orders between Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas while admitting he is actually relishing a proper battle between the pair.
Last year Lewis Hamilton humiliated Valtteri Bottas, 11 victories to none, drivers have been sacked for doing far better. But credit to Wolff for opening the door to the “perfect wingman” to up his game and take the battle to his five-time F1 World Champion teammate.
In an interview released on the occasion of the team’s unveiling of the Mercedes W10, Wolff said, “I’m really looking forward to a strong competition between the two of them, racing each other hard and fighting hard against our rivals.”
Clearly, the gloves are off and the team primed to handle the tears when they arise.
For now, it is harmony as the world champions sent their drivers off to enjoy their holidays, which they did according to the countless social media snaps of Lewis surfing, sky diving, meditating and tons of selfies Valterri in very cold places.
Wolff continued, “Both Lewis and Valtteri spent the winter taking their minds off Formula One for a while, which is important. Lewis spent some time travelling. When we met after the winter break, he was refreshed; he’s extremely hungry and wants to start racing again.”
“Valtteri spent some time with his family in Finland, but he was quickly back into racing cars as he competed in the Arctic Rally.”
“We had a good chat after the break; he was in a good place and has been able to fully reset after a season that was not always easy for him. Valtteri knows he has the full backing of the team to succeed and he’s excited to get back in the car and show his critics what he can do.”
The first task for the boys in Silver is to tweak the W10 into a title-winning weapon during the eight days of preseason testing available to them starting in Barcelona on 18 February.
Hamilton made a huge statement, which is still resonating into 2019, by winning the final two races of last season, unprecedented for him but at the same time the intent clear to all, even noThe first
The first rule of racing to beat your teammate, so far Hamilton has done so into submission. Bottas needs to be the F1 version of Rocky to recover from the beating he has already been given, and then still have it in him to destroy the guy in the #44 car.
Big Question: Can Valtteri beat Lewis the way Nico did?