Bottas: I needed to be five-hundredths quicker

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In the round-up: Valtteri Bottas identifies his qualifying performance as the area he most needed to improve on in Spain.

What they say

Bottas was beaten to pole position by four-hundredths of a second by team mate Lewis Hamilton:

I needed to be five-hundredths better, the weekend could’ve been different. It’s a track where qualifying is a big part of the end result. If you’re P3 or P1 it can really change the end result a lot.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

Mclaren were a full lap down in Spain – does this debunk their previous claims about the quality of their chassis?

Well, I’m sure by now they are wondering where the claim that they have the best chassis came from. Obviously they do not have the best chassis. It’s definitely worse than Red Bull’s and I’m not convinced if it’s better than Renault’s.

It’s also debatable if their chassis is better than Toro Rosso’s considering their performance with the Honda engines. It also didn’t look better than Sauber or Haas.

The claim that they might have the worst chassis or one of the worst ones is probably a more tenable one.
Michael (@Freelittlebirds)

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On this day in F1

  • On this day in 1988 Alain Prost won the Monaco Grand Prix after Ayrton Senna crashed into a barrier at Portier while leading

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Keith Collantine
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  • 45 comments on “Bottas: I needed to be five-hundredths quicker”

    1. wow that COTD is savage!

      1. well, Mclaren is still better than a soapbox.

      2. Also untrue. First of all, they made those claims in 2016 and 2017. During those seasons, when they were racing at chassis/aero dependant circuits (Monaco, Spain, Hungary, Singapore, etc.) they were quicker than most midfield teams. They were definitely quicker than Renault and were probably best of midfield on pace. They were not as good as the top 3 in terms of chassis, because you can’t really develop the chassis in the perfect way with a pile of garbage as a power unit in the back.

        This year, they had a late switch to Renault, so it was expected that they would have an adjustment period initially. To say that they’re slower than Renault is ridiculous, considering that they out qualified them this weekend, and had the pace to beat them in the race as well. Toro Rosso?! Other than Bahrain, where have they been? Battling with Williams and Sauber? Haas? Well.. Haas does have Ferrari’s 2017 car handed to them on a platter… which was the most impressive chassis of last season, so yes, I guess they did fall short on beating last year’s Ferrari.

        I agree they’re not the best chassis, but to compare them to Sauber and Toro Rosso is just silly and unnecessary. Surprised such a daft comment even made COTD.

        1. @todfod, Keith has said in the past that sometimes he will throw up comments that are contentious in order to provoke debate, though sometimes it does feel as if there is a bit of a fine line between something to stir debate and something that seems to be deliberately provocative.

          1. I know. I’ve got COTDs several times because of that ;) but this one is just a poor comment. Taking statements from previous years to justify their current plight doesn’t make any sense.

            1. The slow tragedy of Williams, and now McLaren, is depressing. I suppose we are in a new time. No free-to-air TV, the sense of heritage and tradition is waning, and the brute fact that cash, not effort, wins championships. Will either team still be racing in 5 years?

              I think the plight of these teams is emblematic of how F1 evolves. Since the second half of last season I have hardly watched any F1 as my circumstances have changed quite a bit (and I moved halfway round the world). I’m surprised, and somewhat dismayed, that I don’t really miss F1 – after all, I scarcely missed a race in 30 years. A new time. F1 is always evolving, obviously, and it has morphed into something rather different from the enterprise that held my attention for so long.

              On the up side, my wife is taking me to Le Mans this year. I can’t wait!

            2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
              15th May 2018, 14:51

              @rsp123 I suspect McLaren’s performance woes are organizational more than technical. I’m not sure how a company that’s new to the supercar area is doing so well with the introduction of the P1 and 720s garnering so much critical praise. They sold 3,340 cars in 2017 which is incredible if you compare it to Lambrorghini’s sales of 3,815.

              Koenigsegg might be building more impressive vehicles but they’ve only sold a few hundred. McLaren is selling thousands.

              Obviously, their car manufacturing division is clearly outperforming their F1 division which is a great thing to see. There seems to be an issue with their F1 division which obviously has to deliver at a different pace.

              I don’t know much about McLaren but you could tell from the Whitmarsh days that there were issues which eventually led to Lewis’ departure.

              One thing that surprises is the fact that they seem to wear suits and ties and the meetings seem very formal – this is completely against an “agile” type of environment that F1 requires. I’d have expected them to be wearing flip flops, sneakers, and jeans and be playing table tennis while meeting to try and engage their creative side especially since they have to put in crazy hours before races and during the winter season when they’re developing the vehicle. The kind of commitment that F1 requires is very similar to gaming or software companies which espouse a very informal and friendly “home away from home” workplace philosophy.

        2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          15th May 2018, 14:33

          First, yeah baby!!! yeah!!! COTD!!! Woo-hoo! (spraying champagne over computer)

          @todfod @alfa145 I respect your opinion. If you read my comment, I said it’s debatable that their chassis is quicker than the Toro Rosso. Toro Rosso’s quali performance with 2 rookies has been nipping at Vandoorne’s heels in most races with the exception of Australia. In fact, Gasly was quicker at Bahrain than Alonso by 1 second.
          The Honda PU is generally considered to be the weakest PU out there and most of that is due to McLaren’s stint with the PU for 3 years while McLaren consistently claimed that they had the best chassis.
          We all agree that Mercedes, Ferrari, and Red Bull have a better chassis.
          You’ve already said that Haas has a better chassis since they got Ferrari’s chassis.

          It’s not conclusive if McLaren has a better chassis than Renault. Hulkenberg has outqualified Alonso but so has Sainz in 4 out of 5 races and it was close in Spain. I would lean in favor of Renault this year especially since Hulk has such a gap.

          We also don’t really know the state of the Williams chassis with their current driver lineup – they complain about it but Stroll was nearly a second off Massa’s pace last year. It’s like saying a Mercedes driven by Lance is 1 second slower than the Ferrari – well, whose fault is that? Is that Lance’s or Mercedes’ fault?

          That leaves Sauber and Force India.

          Force India has done much better in quali than McLaren but they have a Mercedes PU which has been much slower compared to the opposition this year. Perhaps McLaren’s chassis is better than Force India’s but again it’s not totally clear as the McLaren chassis looks like #3 out of 3 teams powered by Renault.

          I would agree with you that Sauber has a worse chassis but given their financial woes on a pound for pound basis, their chassis is not that bad compared to McLaren’s which is still considered a top team in terms of resources, not performance.

          As you can see, McLaren is much more towards the bottom than the top in terms of chassis. Their chassis is better than Sauber’s but Sauber was on the verge of bankruptcy. You don’t have to agree with me but the comment is savage only insofar as it may be true and it’s certainly not silly or unnecessary as you may have suggested.

          The truth is that the folks at McLaren need to wake up and smell the coffee!

          1. I think that we have to consider that Honda probably DOES have some kind of qualifying boost (or just has to run so downtuned in the races that it seems to be that way) @freelittlebirds.

            We saw it time and time again how McLaren (mostly Alonso) had a quite impressive qualifying only do quickly drop back on sunday. So we should take that in account when looking at the qualifying of the STR cars, since it is well documented that Renault does not have that.
            Also nicely explains why this year there does not seem to be a huge gap in how good the McLarens run on Saturday and on Sunday.

    2. Neil (@neilosjames)
      15th May 2018, 0:47

      Re: CoTD… the claims about having a great chassis were made last season, about the 2017 car. I don’t think anyone at McLaren has been silly enough to make a similar claim about the 2018 car (which I thought was always going to be a bit compromised after the late switch of power unit supplier, and it being their first season with said supplier).

      I’d call the 2018 McLaren maybe fifth- or sixth-best right now, but it’s hard to say because it seems so much better in races than in qualifying. Top 3, then probably Renault, followed by a coin toss between McLaren, Haas and Toro Rosso.

      1. Indeed! Apparently part of their struggles are that they couldn’t do their rear suspension the same way as they had it with the 2017 car and Honda engine. It would be silly to say their rear half of the 2017 chassis has much resemblance to the 2018 one, given the change in power unit.

        I agree with your assessment of the current pecking order of the teams.

      2. It wasn’t even the best chassis in 2017

      3. I don’t think anyone at McLaren has been silly enough to make a similar claim about the 2018 car

        The less charitably inclined would say that’s because in 2018, it would be far easier to compare them against similarly-powered cars, as was done in the COTD.

      4. @neilosjames

        followed by a coin toss between McLaren, Haas and Toro Rosso.

        Don’t think this is even a valid comparison. Haas are driving an old Ferrari.
        STR have been good in one race. Somewhat decent in the others. McLaren has been consistently faster than STR in most sessions so far.
        I would rather say it is a coin toss for the fourth best car (Ferrari B=Haas) at the moment–between Renault and McLaren. Time will tell.

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          15th May 2018, 18:55

          @alfa145 @webtel @phylyp Just repeating what I said in the reply to the comment above.

          I respect all the opinions. If you read my comment, I said it’s debatable that McLaren’s chassis is quicker than the Toro Rosso. I didn’t say it was certain.

          Toro Rosso’s quali performance with 2 rookies has been nipping at Vandoorne’s heels in most races with the exception of Australia. In fact, Gasly was quicker at Bahrain than Alonso by 1 second.

          The Honda PU is generally considered to be the weakest PU out there and most of that is due to McLaren’s stint with the PU for 3 years while McLaren claimed that they had the best chassis. It’s not as if McLaren won podiums with the Honda PU due to their marvelous chassis. Toro Rosso has had 2 point finishes in 5 races with rookie drivers while McLaren had 1 point finish with Vandoorne and 7 point finishes with Alonso in 2017.

          We all agree that Mercedes, Ferrari, and Red Bull have a better chassis.

          Haas probably has a better chassis since they probably got Ferrari’s chassis.

          It’s not conclusive if McLaren has a better chassis than Renault. Hulkenberg has outqualified Alonso but so has Sainz in 4 out of 5 races and it was close in Spain. I would lean in favor of Renault this year especially since Hulk has such a gap.

          We also don’t really know the state of the Williams chassis with their current driver lineup – they complain about it but Stroll was nearly a second off Massa’s pace last year. It’s like saying a Mercedes driven by Lance is 1 second slower than the Ferrari – well, whose fault is that? Is that Lance’s or Mercedes’ fault?

          That leaves Sauber and Force India.

          Force India has done much better in quali than McLaren but they have a Mercedes PU which has been much slower compared to the opposition this season compared to previous seasons. Perhaps McLaren’s chassis is better than Force India’s but again it’s not totally clear as the McLaren chassis looks like #3 out of 3 teams powered by Renault.

          I would agree with all of you that Sauber has a worse chassis but given their financial woes on a pound for pound basis, their chassis is not that bad compared to McLaren’s which is still considered a top team in terms of resources, not performance.

          As you can see, McLaren is much more towards the bottom than the top in terms of chassis. Their chassis is better than Sauber’s but Sauber was on the verge of bankruptcy.

          All in all, McLaren might have a chassis that’s in the top 5 through 9 – where they fit in is not obvious. The fact that McLaren appears to be in 3rd place out of 3 in the Renault engine division doesn’t really instill confidence that they are in the 5th or 6th spot, it doesn’t preclude it either.

          1. @freelittlebirds – I don’t dispute any of your points, or object to your COTD.

            My expectations of McLaren are higher – due to the statements they made in the past about their chassis, as well as the fact that McLaren F1 has allied motorsport interests (they make sports cars, their technology division’s existence). Red Bull have often been derisively termed a “soft drinks team” when compared to the purist racing teams, but two of their cars are clearly ahead of McLaren, and the other two are not embarrassingly behind. So yeah, I’m with you that the McLaren chassis has some way to go.

          2. @freelittlebirds

            I said it’s debatable that McLaren’s chassis is quicker than the Toro Rosso. I didn’t say it was certain…..It’s not conclusive if McLaren has a better chassis than Renault.

            Point taken.

            As you can see, McLaren is much more towards the bottom than the top in terms of chassis.

            Subjective. Agree to an extent. But as the way things stand and given the kind of races McLaren have offered, i think we can say say with a reasonable amount of certainty that McLaren aren’t in the top 5 when it comes to chassis.

    3. If one were to give a direct translation of that Japanese tweet it’d go something like this;

      I thought the Halo looked ridiculously stupid and uncool and it’s be hard to see with it, but now its proven to be very safe.

      1. @yoshif8tures – thank you for that translation. I’d (wrongly) assumed that it was the same as the English text.

    4. TBH, it wasn’t worth it to even think about temporarily moving Silverstone to April in the first place. Fortunately, it isn’t going to happen.

      1. Jonathan Parkin
        15th May 2018, 5:04

        And of course remember the last time it was staged in April. It not only rained but Bernie blamed the organisers for it when it was the FIA that gave them that slot to begin with

      2. DocNuke (@)
        16th May 2018, 1:49

        I really wish that it could be done. I do want F1 to stick with tradition, and Silverstone would be an ideal place to hold the 1000th race, but yeah with the way the weather is I’m surprised that there wasn’t a more traditional location selected.

    5. Am I the only one who sees the Lewis tweet as one coming from a non-official (fan?) account? “Hamiltron”.

      Lewis’ actual tweet is here.

      1. @phylyp you’re the only one. I didnt notice at all.

        Was wondering why he’s not “blessed” now? ;)

        1. @phylyp @tomcat173 Apologies, the correct Tweet is in there now.

          1. Cheers, Keith.

          2. @keithcollantine we’ll let this one slide – Love the site by the way!

      2. I cannot see those tweets at all (they are not embedded) when reading racefans.net on my laptop (OSX 10 Chrome 66).
        @phylyp

        1. Are you running any extensions in Chrome that are blocking social media? Or are you using a corporate connection that prevents access to social media (my company does this)?

          1. Thanks @phylyp for your reply.
            The only ‘blocking extension’ I use is ‘video autoplay blocker’; that should not have an impact.

            1. The ‘issue’ might be the ‘disconnect’ extension.
              I have the same; not seeing all the embedded twitter content.

              Though I strongly recommend keeping ‘disconnect’ as it stops those nasty tracking pixels/code/cookies (and speeds up page loads).
              Not sure why but this site has one of the most ‘tracking code’ items of all the regular sites I visit (687 and counting)

    6. I don’t get the counter that Mclaren’s 2018 chassis being bad doesn’t disprove that the 2017 chassis was one of the best. It does. There have been no rule changes. Mclaren have changed their engine partner. So what? Toro Rosso has done that thrice already and Lotus once. Neither of the two teams faced a significant downturn in performance when they did that. No reason Mclaren would. Which leads to the conclusion that Mclaren were never top-drawer in 2017 as well.

      The lack of top speed improvement from 2017 to 2018 proves that their chassis has always been draggy.

      1. Drag issue is persistant this entire decade, even in 2014 with Mercedes power they were slow.

      2. Lotus is not a great example though given that there was considerable flux within the team, such that an engine change was probably one of their least problems.

        They also had major problems with the E22 as well – they basically had the same problem that Williams have now with their car, which is unpredictable stalling of the diffuser causing major shifts in handling. Irrespective of an engine change, they probably would have performed more strongly by simply fixing that issue.

    7. Hamilton is always an extremely quick driver but when he gets motivated he’s dangerously fast. Vettel, Bottas and Räikkönen have a really big fight on their hands.

      1. Now he is in the mood again. They need to stop him fast, he is well capable of winning 3-5 more races in a row.

      2. Vettel, Bottas and Räikkönen have a really big fight on their hands.

        (This year) I don’t think Bottas has ever been up to it, and Räikkönen doesn’t seem to be able to carry the speed into Sunday.
        Vettel, strangely enough, should be able to fight such a fight but seemed to give in quite quickly the last 2 races.
        The stiffest fight might come from the guys in the RBR if they can look beyond fighting their teammates.
        @godoff1, @jureo

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          15th May 2018, 11:48

          Out of this year, Bottas has looked about as good as Hamilton in 2/5 weekends (bahrain and Spain) and better overall in 2/5 (China and Baku)

          I say about as good in Spain because it was clear he did have the pace of Hamilton on friday and saturday and when he was in clean air in the race. Once Vettel had pitted, Bottas instantly set the fastest first sector and very nearly did the fastest lap of the race. Then on the following lap, did the fastest first 2 sectors and probably will have done the fastest lap if he hadn’t pitted. His pit stop unfortunately was 1.4 seconds slower than Vettel’s at 3.9s which made his really fast laps worthless. He very likely will have managed to jump Vettel if it wasn’t for that. To me his fast laps were making up for the fact that vettel did better than him at the start. Overtaking was really hard here and even when Hamilton was very good this weekend, when Bottas was in clean air, He wasn’t actually much slower. He was only a lot slower when his tyres were past the recommended running time. And given if it wasn’t for Baku that Bottas would be behind Hamilton by 5 points, that shows he could be up for the task of fighting for the title (although it will be very hard).

          If Hamilton’s luck turns in a similar way to it did when Rosberg won the title, I wouldn’t count Bottas out on winning the title. I do certainly believe Hamilton is better but Bottas is certainly better this year than the last so far, despite Australia. It will be a tighter fight.

    8. COTD is savage… McLaren on a Williams level? Yeah somewhere there in the mix with the worst of them?

      Savage or not, they are certainly not the best chassis makers out there.

    9. Holy Savage Servos BatteryMan! That autonomous roborace car sounds horrid. Only an emotionless ai-driver fan could enjoy that sort of sewing machine soundtrack. ;-)

    10. I was a bit shocked at how slow the AI driven car was compared to the human. Let’s be clear here, it was the simplest type of circuit for AI to cope with. The track boundaries were almost identical in nature all the way around, with no other cars or other obstacles to cope with, yet the AI was nearly 30 seconds slower.

      I hope this isn’t indicative of the abilities of an on-road self driven car, otherwise they are dangerously inept, or so slow that they will be mobile road blocks that will slow all other traffic by an unreasonable amount.

      As a publicity stunt for the whole idea of driverless cars, it had the opposite effect on me. They are simply not ready for integration onto the public highway, the equivalent of sending a nearly blind person out and saying they’ll be OK if they drive slowly.

      1. @Frasier Not really, the most important thing is it doesn’t crash. Given the opponent is pro-driver, I think non race loving human will do more or less the same time as the AI does (with higher risk of crashing in car with those kind of performance). What the video didn’t explain further is does the AI has the chance or capability to learn? The human driver shown has practice session, analyzing telemetry overnight, watching other drivers via Formula E race, and several laps to set the time. Does the AI also given chance to analyze previous data and finding points to improve or it more like plug and play style (or does it even have the capability of learning in the first place)?

        That being said, the AI we have now certainly still have a lot to improve. But, I willing to bet the current AI is actually safer than 50% of people who actually drive a car right now, which includes grannies, DUIs, and kids (not even teenagers).

        1. AI does its thing by practising and learning. It doesn’t have the circuit or street programmed into some kind of gps map, that would be nowhere near precise enough and wouldn’t in any case cater for the unexpected. So yes, the AI driven car was allowed to practice.

          I’m willing to believe that AI is better than some drivers on our roads, and perhaps there is a case for some to be ‘downgraded’ to simply monitoring the progress of a driverless car. The downside is of course lack of practice for the monitoring human. Consider pilots, I imagine the odd occasion when the landing is so harsh you wonder if the plane in fact crashed was a rusty pilot trying to keep his hand in with the basics.

    11. Skynet is sandbagging.

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