BUDAPEST, Hungary -- Valtteri Bottas admits it was painful to hear Mercedes boss Toto Wolff call him "a sensational wingman" for Lewis Hamilton after a frustrating Hungarian Grand Prix.
Hamilton led away from pole position, with Bottas able to hold off the Ferraris and keep second early on. Due to the threat of the Ferraris Bottas was brought in for his pit-stop early, meaning he spent the second half of the race holding off Hamilton's main title rival Sebastian Vettel.
He was able to do so until the final laps, by which point Hamilton had eased away for victory. Bottas dropped from second to fifth in the final laps after clumsy collisions with both Vettel and Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo.
Speaking to Sky Sports after the race, Wolff said: "It feels a bit bittersweet, I don't know why, because Valtteri would have deserved a podium because he was such a sensational wingman."
Those comments did not appear to go do down too well with Bottas.
"Well, first of all 'wingman' hurts," he said after being told what Wolff had said. "Second of all I don't see any positives for me. We thought we should have been able to do that one-stop. We had to stop earlier than we wanted because of Kimi, we had to cover him.
"Still 20 laps from the end everything was feeling OK, I had good control of the pace and my position. But then the rear tyres started to die. I tried to defend best I could, as aggressive as I could, but it all ended up being a bit of a mess in the end with a broken front wing and everything."
When asked if being a "wingman" was to be expected driving at Mercedes alongside Hamilton, who extended his championship lead to 24 points with victory, Bottas replied: "I think we need to speak after this race. We are over half way of the year. The points gap is big so I'm sure the team will decide at some point."
An hour later, Bottas clarified his comments.
1/2— Valtteri Bottas (@ValtteriBottas) July 29, 2018
Some out of context news around..
I have not called a meeting with the bosses for Toto saying I was the perfect wingman in this race. There is no need to. I was disapponted with my end result in the race and saw everything in a negative way for a moment. I know what he ment
2/2— Valtteri Bottas (@ValtteriBottas) July 29, 2018
And he would have said the same about Lewis if he'd be in same situation and had a similar race.
We are on equal terms and I trust the team 100% on that. All good. We'll keep pushing! It'll come. #VB77 @MercedesAMGF1
Bottas' race unravelled after Vettel attempted to pass. The Ferrari driver had inched ahead at Turn 1 and the pair drove down towards the next corner side by side. Bottas, on the inside, went straight on and into the back of Vettel. A few laps later, having been caught by Ricciardo, Bottas' understeered across the apex and into the side of the Red Bull car.
The following lap, he was told to give the position to Ricciardo moments after the stewards confirmed it would launch a post-race investigation into the incident. Bottas was given two penalty points on his superlicence and hit with a 10-second time penalty, although that didn't impact his fifth-place finish.