Sun. May 19th, 2019

Lewis Hamilton: Toto Wolff makes Daniel Ricciardo to Mercedes revelation

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At the start of 2018, Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas were both entering the final 12 months of their Mercedes deals.

There was a lot of speculation that Bottas, who failed to win race all season, may not have been kept on.

However, the Finn was handed a 12-month contract extension midway through the campaign.

But Wolff has admitted he looked at other options before backing his secondary driver.

“We’ve always had an eye on Daniel,” Wolff told Brazil’s Globo.

Bottas fell out of the Championship battle early on last year.

He spent the majority of the season helping Hamilton to his fifth world title.

And Wolff explained that is why he rewarded the 29-year-old with a new deal.

“If you are happy in a relationship, you don’t need to flirt with another woman,” he added.

“If in May or June we were unhappy with Valtteri, we would have continued the conversations.

“But because Valtteri was doing well at that point of the season, we did not want to waste Daniel’s time.”

Ricciardo made a shock move from Red Bull to Renault where he will drive alongside Nico Hulkenberg.

But the Australian is not expecting to be leading from the front of the grid in his maiden year.

“I guess the likelihood of starting on the front row, at least in the short-term, is slim,” he said ahead of the season, which starts this weekend.

“The fact that there will be more cars starting in front of me is higher, so more cars to get through. You’ll probably see more of the Daniel Ricciardo that you’re used to. There’s no reason for me to hold back.

“Even more so if we aren’t fighting for podiums every weekend; it’s even more important for me to have that character on track to try and stay relevant and push the team towards the front.”

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