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Wolff: 'Time for Bottas' strength of character to shine through'

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Mercedes will do all it can to help Valtteri Bottas pull himself out of his current slump, but ultimately the Finn will also have to rely on his own strength of character, says Toto Wolff.

Bottas' performance level relative to team mate Lewis Hamilton has declined in the fast few reasons, leaving the Finn and his team with more questions than answers.

In Malaysia the n°77 Mercedes was on the offense from the outset but its efforts to remain i contact with the front-runners were short-lived.

Bottas, who recently extended his contract with the Silver Arrows outfit for another year admitted he was facing "the most difficult time" in his career.

"Lewis has made the most of every opportunity in recent weeks; he has been in fantastic form, particularly since the summer break, and is driving with a perfect balance of aggression right now," said Wolff ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix.

"It has been a more challenging picture for Valtteri and it is a priority for us to give him the car he needs to perform - and to help him extract everything from it.

"It is not an easy time right now but this is the time for his strength of character, work ethic and natural talent to shine through."

Mercedes heads to a track where it has historically always done well, but Wolff insists that past performance is not always indicative of future results.

"The next challenge comes in the form of Suzuka, a circuit which will ask very different questions of our car than Sepang. In the last years, we have performed very strongly there.

"But recent weeks have reminded us that historic form counts for little with these 2017 cars and tyres.

"It is a circuit which rewards Grand Prix cars and drivers performing at their very best - and we expect a very close fight between ourselves, Ferrari and Red Bull.

"As a team, our targets for the final quarter of the season are very clear. It is entirely in our hands to make sure we achieve them."

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