Toto Wolff, the team principal of the Mercedes Formula 1 team, has been accused of favouritism towards Lewis Hamilton.
There is no doubt Mercedes consider the British seven-time F1 champion their number one driver with Valtteri Bottas relegated to the role of the supporting act. As per Russian F1 commentator Alexey Popov, Wolff also sees it the same way and uses double standards when it comes to his drivers.
Speaking to Russian sports TV, Popov used two examples to showcase his argument. He spoke about Wolff's reaction to Bottas' failed pitstop during the Monaco Grand Prix earlier this year, where he blamed the driver, but waved away Hamilton's error at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix as a minor mistake.
Bottas was in line to potentially finish second at the Monaco Grand Prix before a disastrous pitstop saw the Mercedes team fail to dislodge his right front tyre. It looked like a tyre gun issue, but Wolff was quick to pin the blame on Bottas, much to the surprise of the Finnish driver.
"After Monaco, the first thing he (Wolff) said was that because Bottas didn't line up right, the mechanics couldn't get the wheel off in the pitstop. Then it turned out that he had lined up better than almost everyone else," Popov said, as quoted on GPBlog.
In Azerbaijan, Hamilton had every chance of winning the race at the restart following Max Verstappen's crash. The Briton made a great start but under challenge from Sergio Perez, the experienced Briton, flipped a switch that blocked his brakes, it caused him to run off the track and go from first to the back of the field.
"That alone isn't so bad, but it seems that when Hamilton makes a mistake, Toto says 'no, no, he accidentally flicked a switch' and 'it wasn't a mistake because he was forced to by Perez'," Popov argued pointing at the double standards.
Popov feels the situation has become "comical" for everyone except Bottas, who now feels like an outcast in the team. The Finn has been with Mercedes since 2017 but seems to be struggling more this season than the last.
"Honestly, everyone has started to laugh at this," the Russian said. "Not Bottas, of course, because he feels more and more like an outcast at the team. Whatever he does, it's his fault. If something goes well for him, it's thanks to the team."