Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2018

Bottas suspects Mercedes got its sums wrong with engine cooling

2018 Australian Grand Prix

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Valtteri Bottas says he had to back off repeatedly to preserve his engine during the Australian Grand Prix and suspects Mercedes left too little margin with its cooling package.

Bottas climbed from 15th on the grid to finish eighth but revealed he had to drop back from other cars to keep his power unit cool.

Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen, Albert Park, 2018
2018 Australian Grand Prix in pictures
“We expected it was going to be difficult,” said Bottas. “And we knew you need a big pace difference, delta, to overtake, if the other guy doesn’t do any mistake. Especially if there’s a train of cars like I had in the whole second stint.”

“And there was not much things happening that was really helping me. I think the Virtual Safety Car maybe I gained a little bit, stopping under that.

“Other than that it was a pretty frustrating race in the end because we do have a good car but there was nothing I could do. I was trying to take all the opportunities, got some overtakes.

“On top of that what was really limiting us today was overheating. I think there was something wrong with the calculation for the cooling we estimated for today so I couldn’t really be close to other cars so I couldn’t put pressure on other cars for long, I could only be, like, two laps and then I had to back off, try again. So it was not quite ideal.”

Although Bottas didn’t have to switch engine modes to reduce stress on the engine, he said the need to back off for the engine restricted his pace more than tyre degradation. “I never could push as many laps in a row that I had issues with overheating of the tyres.”

Lewis Hamilton was told on several occasions at the end of the race to back off to reduce engine temperatures while he was chasing Sebastian Vettel.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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23 comments on “Bottas suspects Mercedes got its sums wrong with engine cooling”

  1. And I presume the phenomenal weather during testing also masked this issue during their long runs.

    1. desert climate of Bahrain wont leave any place for Mercedes to hide. it will make matters worse for them.

      1. Hallelujah

    2. @phylyp I don’t think so. Their cooling was fine until that point, according to Allison.
      Sunday was predicted to be a lot cooler and the Mercedes were not expected to be in traffic so I guess that was the problem. Cars left parc ferme Saturday so Bottas was locked in to that amount of cooling.

      1. Cars left parc ferme Saturday

        Not sure that applies if you smash your car to bits in Quali.

        1. @asanator
          It does. You can repair the car by replacing damaged pieces with functionally equivalent pieces, but if you want to change anything that breaks the Parc Fermé rules, that’s a pit lane start for you.

  2. The car is designed to lead the pack. Good knowing that in order to use their weakness, you have to be in front. That’s really going to help their rivals.

    1. I view this cooling issue as a problem that is more easily solved than Mercedes finding it hard to follow a car due to aero issues.

      I’m sure some Merc mechanic will be busy beavering away with a hacksaw to open up a few additional cooling ports in the sidepods ahead of their next race.

      However, Mercedes have found it hard to stabilize their car in the wake of another car ahead, a problem that has been ongoing for some time.

      1. Statistically being P1 is better than being good in traffic. They can make a choice on it. Others simply lack overall to be P1.

        I am certain Bottas wouldn’t struggle with temps in P1.

    2. It can be an issue on a track where overtaking is difficult. Bahrein with that long straight they wouldn’t waste two laps doing the overtakes they couldn’t do this race and then with fresh air, cool the engine.

      It’s not a big deal by any means.

  3. Of all discussions this is the one of few worth of technical discussion, sounds like merc pushed the design taking in consideration only optimistic race conditions as being always in front, quite worrying that both Ham and Bot suffered of the same issues…..

  4. The good thing is now Mercedes and Red Bull confirmed they can’t just easily pass midfielders. Of course Albert Park is hard place to overtake but it means the top 3 can’t be assured finished in top 6 anymore, making every mistake and grid penalty matters to them a lot more.

    1. This could be the key point of the season. The days of starting at the back and being guaranteed at least 6th place are over.

    2. This could sadly lead to knee jerk reaction from fia if the drs is not easy enough.

    3. Easy, guys, this was a circuit where overtaking is so difficult they beat the record for DRS zones. It will probably be the same in Monaco and Hungary (just like every year, anyway). But let’s see how it pans out in places like China and Bahrain, odds are overtaking will be business as usual there.

  5. In hindsight, might have been better to start him from the pits on softs and go deep into the race. With Mercedes’ pace he might’ve climbed higher up …

  6. Did Williams not have an overheating Merc engine problem as well? If so its great news as they may have to open up more cooling and turn the engine down making them slower.

  7. Theres nothing wrong with the cooling, Bottas engineers just didnt plan for him driving behind a backmarker the entire race.

    1. Hamilton also had to back off. And it was telling how the mercs had to try get into clean air on straights to cool things down.

    2. @rethla exactly, and race day was hotter than predicted before parc ferme. @socksolid not as bad as Bottas because he only had 1 car in front anyway as usual Merc set the car to run from the front.

  8. The higher the engine temps are the better the combustion efficiency is. When you lower engine temps you burn more fuel for the same power.

    1. Very true, however, you have three engines per year and you cannot run them as hot as you would like….

  9. Hopefully, this is easily solved. But remember, Mercedes has bragged about how tightly they packaged the rear of the car this year? Too aggressive? Like Honda’s “concept zero”?

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