Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

Bottas: ‘There’s been no weekends where I was way off the pace like last year’

RaceFans Round-up

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In the round-up: Valtteri Bottas says he’s become a more consistent competitor this year.

What they say

Bottas also said he hopes no more bad luck will come his way after a piece of debris cost him victory in Azerbaijan.

I think this year I’ve been meeting more or less my targets with the performance for the beginning of the year. I’ve been able to continue the good performance since the end of last year and there’s been no weekends that I’ve been really way off the pace like there was a few last year. So I think I’ve learned from those.

I need to continue my development. There’s never things that you can’t learn more. I still hope I keep improving. But there’s been mixed races and the end results haven’t been really I feel sometimes quite there that I think would have been possible with the pace we had. And also like [last Sunday] the gap to Lewis [Hamilton] was huge but I think there’s many things that affected that today. So I’m happy and I know we can win races, I know the speed is there for that this year, it’s just extremely difficult but it’s possible and it will come.

We’re so early in the season. I hope I’ve had my bad luck for the year. At least for us we’ve got a good edge on Ferrari this weekend with the points. At least I got closer to Sebastian [Vettel] with the points, ahead of Kimi [Raikkonen], so that’s good. It’s still early on so I don’t really want to think about the points I just want to focus race by race.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

Should F1 drivers be expected to accept slower cars on the understanding they’ll be able to race each other more closely?

I think that as a fan it’s easy to look at making the cars slower and think ‘If the racing is better it’s worth it’ or ‘It’s only 1.5 odd seconds’ and see no issue with it.

However let’s not forget that the drivers are there to race yes but they also want to be pushed to there limits and challenged both physically and mentally.

For most of the past decade both they (And many fans) complained quite often about the cars been too slow, Too relatively easy to drive, Not as challenging to drive and not pushing drivers to the limits as in the past with them getting out after a long race feeling like they had just done a short jog rather than a long marathon.

Drivers were also pretty vocal in how much more challenging, Demanding and fun the 2017 regulation cars are to drive with Button saying something about how F1 cars finally felt like F1 again after his Monaco drive last year and how the 2017 cars were for the 1st time in ages a step in the right direction.

Drivers opinions on this should matter because there the one’s driving the cars. 1.5 seconds may not seem a lot to us but that is something the drivers will feel and if results in them finding the cars more boring, less challenging and less fun to drive then that isn’t a positive in my view.
@StefMeister

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  • 45 comments on “Bottas: ‘There’s been no weekends where I was way off the pace like last year’”

    1. I think max speed is not the problem F1 has to face.
      1 – Indy cars in Indy 500 lap at +200mph. Not necessarily a good race.
      2 – F1 cars lap Monaco at ~100mph. Not necessarily a bad race.
      3 – Stock series can be fun at any rate of average lap speed. Not to mention lawnmowers.
      4 – Some exploratory but feasable prototypes to F1 offered 240mph top speeds. So, anything below that is a compromise to safety and costs.
      5 – The important thing for competition is the differential in performance during different moments of a given race.
      6 – The lack of the mechanical sense of a moving car is what kills the sensation of skill and danger. If the only thing that changes or deforms in a turn is the tyre, then there is no sensation of force on F1 cars. Sometimes they seem static.

      1. I have to disagree with the Stef in this COTD. It is the same element that makes the cars faster, easier to drive, and harder to overtake, that element is aero-induced downforce. Remove the downforce and drivers have to work harder to keep their cars from exceeding the limits of the tyres grip, this is the essence of good racing.

        1. Yes remove 80% of the aero and all racing problems are solved. It will be higher speeds, harder to drive and easier to overtake.

          1. It probably wont be safer however…

          2. @rethla, if you did go down HoHum’s route, you’d end up with cars that would be slower around a circuit than a Formula 3 car (that is not an exaggeration – from simulations that Willem Toet has done in the past, that is how far you would degrade the performance levels of the cars). HoHum might be forever stuck in 1963, but the rest of the world has moved on in the 55 years since then and I doubt that many drivers would want to aspire to a series that regressed to that point.

            1. @anon 20% downforce is 99% more than they had in 1963 and i doubt they would be slower than F3. Their laptimes would suffer but anyways they would still be faster than FE and everyone claims that to be the future.

            2. @rethla, the comment was aimed as much as HoHum talking about getting rid of all the aero on the cars as he retreads his same predictable comments about wanting to make the cars just like they were back in the early 1960’s.

              As for the comment about being slower than Formula 3 cars, again that was with reference to HoHum’s comments about removing all the downforce and, as I stated, that is based on work that Willem Toet has done. Now, it was a few years ago, but he was looking at the typical performance of the cars of the time (circa 2015) around Barcelona, and he ran a series of simulations of how the cars might behave if you made some fairly sizeable changes to them.

              One of the options was seeing how the cars would react if you did strip off all of the downforce, much as HoHum wants to do. That work suggested you’d be looking at lap times around the mid 1m43’s: now, even if you then went to a considerable extreme and cut the drag levels to 25% of what they are now (a figure that Willem reckoned probably was impossible to achieve in reality – it was more of a theoretical exercise to show how even a massive reduction in drag made a very small difference in reality), whilst still having no downforce, then you were looking at a lap time of about 1m41.6s.

              By way of comparison, in 2017 the slowest time set by a Formula 3 car in qualifying trim for the Spanish Formula 3 race was a 1m40 flat – which would make it 1.6s quicker than your hypothetical F1 car in that situation (which was what I was referring to when talking about how you’d end up with an F1 car that was slower than a Formula 3 car).

              Now, those are obviously extreme scenarios, but it is quite likely that, if you were cutting more than 80% of the downforce from the cars, you would be chopping off a lot more performance than you think, whilst conversely trying to make the cars faster in a straight line doesn’t really boost the performance that much at most normal circuits.

              The cars are rarely drag limited, save perhaps at somewhere like Monza (i.e. basically only at circuits which are mostly made up of long straights), but they are always traction limited – so increasing downforce, and thereby cornering speeds, is always a vastly superior way of improving performance than any other method.

              It’s also questionable whether you’d actually make the cars that much faster in a straight line anyway even if you did take that much downforce off the cars.

              Given that the floor of the car is the largest and most powerful aero downforce generating component (it’s generally estimated at around 60% to 65% of the total downforce coming from the floor), whilst simultaneously comparatively low drag as well, you’re not hugely altering the drag of the cars if you cut the amount of downforce that produced (and the only way you’d achieve your drastic downforce reduction would be by cutting the amount of downforce produced by the floor). If you deleted the wings, you would have some drag reduction there, but you’d still have left the most drag sensitive part – those exposed wheels – in place, so the overall drag coefficient of the car would still be very high.

              Furthermore, if you make the cars that traction limited to begin with, then they would probably be exiting the final corner onto the main straight at a much lower starting speed to begin with – so it is debatable whether, by the time that they did get to the end of the straights, they’d be that much quicker anyway.

          3. If you do that (remove aero) it is just no longer F1. There would only be a technical challenge on the engine part, a lot less possibilities to setup the car. The only differentiator would be the engine. This would kill what is left of the privateers and make any season more predictable than ever before.
            Just not a realistic option in my opinion.

            1. @mosquito
              Thats clearly not the case, removing the downforce will severly reduce the full throttle parts and make it waaaay more about the grip than the engine.

            2. @rethla
              Maybe it would be more about the grip, but what difference can you make in that field, if not with aerodynamics?

            3. @mosquito
              You can make the difference with better driving being able to follow cars closely without sacrificing half the grip like it is now. Just watch a gocart race.

              Also lets not pretend that 20% of the current aero is neglectable, its still a huge amount of downforce to play with for the engineers. Its more downforce than in the 90s.

            4. @rethla, I don’t think that you quite realise how much downforce the cars of the 1990’s were producing – they were producing a lot more downforce than you think (Newey has made a few comments suggesting that the cars of the early 1990’s were potentially on a par with cars from the 2010’s – the cars of the 1990’s, especially the early 1990’s, were high downforce cars).

        2. Yes maybe we can remove a bit of downforce to spice up the racing, but don’t lose the DNA (not that word again) of F1.
          The most memorable thing that makes F1 special to me is that they have so much downforce that they can go upside down through a tunnel*.
          @hohum

          * for the younger fans who don’t believe me, just watch next week’s race laying with your back on the couch, head in the direction of the screen and drop it backwards to watch the race.

    2. I see Renault is starting to hint that performance upgrades might not be on schedule. Sound familiar?

      1. BD-C90
        Why does it take Renault so long to test reliability upgrades to their power unit. I am no engineering, but, this upgrade has been rumoured for almost a year. No wonder Red Bull are nervous. You don’t hear Mercedes or Ferrari go on forever about upgrades, untill they are sure the have worked out any gremlins, before even confirming the possibility of an upgrade.

      2. Yeah.. a little disappointing that they’re still not confident of the new MGU-H’s reliability. Taffin seems confident he can find 0.5s from the PU this year itself… which is quite a massive gain, and enough reason to be optimistic, but it’s kind of hard to take them seriously nowadays.

    3. I couldn’t agree more with the COTD. Hopefully, the technical reg changes for 2021 would be that we could have both the lap times back in the 2017-18 levels as well as closer racing, i.e., cars that could achieve both similar lap times to 2017-18 as well as be significantly more race-able/following-friendly.

    4. That’s an interesting point from Sauber I hadn’t considered. Good for them :) All eyes are on these 2021 plans. Williams, Sauber, FI, HAAS… A lot hinges on them and the years are counting down. The news needs to be of these teams believing in a bright future for F1, not uncertainty and doubt…

    5. FlatSix (@)
      19th May 2018, 8:40

      @StefMeister I might be interpreting you wrong there but;

      I think that as a fan it’s easy to look at making the cars slower and think ‘If the racing is better it’s worth it’ or ‘It’s only 1.5 odd seconds’ and see no issue with it.

      However let’s not forget that the drivers are there to race yes but they also want to be pushed to there limits and challenged both physically and mentally.

      Would those two then combine to anything but the fastest is not challenging? I’m fairly sure that if you asked any GT driver whether his race was a challenge after the 24 hours of Spa for example he’ll definitely say ‘yes’.

      I agree with the below though. But a car that is slower doesn’t have to be less challenging. It really does match what Vettel said yesterday that there are probably also changes that can be made to aid overtaking without making the car slower.

      Drivers opinions on this should matter because there the one’s driving the cars. 1.5 seconds may not seem a lot to us but that is something the drivers will feel and if results in them finding the cars more boring, less challenging and less fun to drive then that isn’t a positive in my view.

    6. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      19th May 2018, 8:50

      I get the feeling some may disagree with Bottas’s statement when taking his performance in Australia and Spain into consideration. But I don’t think he was lacking pace in either. The start of his lap in qualifying in Australia did look very quick, he was just trying that bit too hard. But of course that was a big mistake and did cost him. In the race, it just happened to be incredibly difficult to overtake and it will have been difficult to show his true pace there without being in clean air. If he believes he wasn’t struggling in any races, then I think his pace could well have been similar that race to how it has been in the others.

      In Spain, he did look pretty much as quick as Hamilton in practice and qualifying. Then the race, Vettel just had a better start than Bottas. And unfortunately, Spain was similar to Australia in a way. Just really hard to overtake. I still don’t think Bottas was much slower than Hamilton here on race day. When Vettel pitted, Bottas instantly set the fastest first sector and nearly beat the fastest lap set by Hamilton. This showed that Vettel had basically been slower. Then on the following lap, he was fastest in the first 2 sectors and will have very likely set the fastest lap if he didn’t pit. This will have been what he needed to do to jump Vettel. But unfortunately, his stop was 3.9 seconds. 1.4 slower than Vettel’s at 2.5. He came out just behind and was very unlucky considering his performance in the past few laps. Had he come out ahead of Vettel, I think he likely will have closed in on Hamilton and probably will have been able to finish within 10 seconds of him. Towards the end of the race when Bottas was in clean air, despite being on older tyres, his lap times were not that much slower than Hamilton’s. This was until his tyres were several laps past the recommended running time, then he did start to struggle a bit. But he certainly managed them pretty well considering the possible threat from behind.

      So despite his performance in Australia and a 20+ second gap in Spain, I don’t think that has actually showed that he’s been well off the pace of Hamilton on any weekend. He was similar to Hamilton in Bahrain. Better in qualifying but maybe not quite as quick in the race (although wasn’t told to push until very late) Then most will have to admit he clearly looked better in China and Baku overall. I think it is looking more and more likely Mercedes won’t want to risk another driver as Bottas is looking very reliable. He’s just been unfortunate to loose out on 2 very likely wins in China and Baku. If he had won in Baku, he would just be behind Hamilton by 5 points and nearly 10 points ahead of Vettel. That isn’t bad really is it given the level of criticism he got in the first 2 races. His position in the championship now doesn’t really reflect how well he has done.

      1. @thegianthogweed I hear you that there are reasons why VB has perhaps done better than his stats show, but that said, all drivers have reasons for where they are in the standings…all have had circumstances. For me I’m not sure it bodes well for VB to be much happier with his consistent performance so far this season vs last year, yet he already sits 37 points back of LH and 20 back of SV.

        It is my hope that that kind of reliability is not what Mercedes are willing to settle for, and that they hire someone who can really take the gloves off and compete against LH. I’m not convinced Mercedes are happy with the door being open for someone else on another team to take the 2nd spot in the standings and threaten for the top spot. LH and NR locked out the competition…LH and VB have not.

        1. @robbie what’s another driver gonna do that Bottas isn’t doing? He contributed his fair bit towards the constructors title last year. To me that’s job done. His first and foremost job is to beat Kimi and he does that handily most of the time. The team has a very harmonious dynamic right now and they are leading both championships. A new driver is only gonna upset the applecart and why would Mercedes wanna do that. Besides, I don’t think Ocon is ready yet he has to start beating Perez regularly so I think Bottas is seating pretty right now.

          1. @blackmamba Aside from a strong gladiator v gladiator rivalry on a top team being a much more enthralling thing for the global audience than a defacto 1-2 lovefest, there’s a chance SV might win the WDC this year, or at least bring it closer to the wire than last year, and VB won’t be able to displace him and help LH or himself and Merc to a 1-2, if he is spending his time fighting Kimi, the default number 2 at Ferrari. I just think Mercedes would rather have both the front row spots locked up regularly, like they did with LH and NR, and push both SV and KR out that way, rather than leave to door open on the front row.

            As to upsetting the apple cart, if they had their way Nico was to still be in that seat, as they had re-signed him through 2018, in which case that strong rivalry would have both Ferrari’s off the front row and RBR too. They’d rather have that, especially as they are racers, than a lovefest but a chance of losing.

        2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          19th May 2018, 20:06

          I still think you are being unreasonable towards Bottas. Sorry to say. He is only behind Vettel in the standings because of a retirement in Baku. If Hamilton had retired in Baku, would you start saying these things about Hamilton? I highly doubt it. Vettel had the misfortune in China of Verstappen hitting him which cost him 2nd and he finished 8th. So that cost him 14 points. But he also had luck in Australia by claiming an extra 10 points. He was set for 3rd until the safety car. In Baku, Bottas will have either finished 2nd or won. So take that into consideration.

          The positions in the championship would very likely be this if not for Bottas’s puncture in baku.

          Hamilton: 88
          Bottas: 83
          Vettel: 76

          They will have basically had equal luck this season with those points. I really do feel that even though you keep saying you like Bottas, you keep saying things about him that look rather negative to me.

          “”yet he already sits 37 points back of LH and 20 back of SV.””
          Surely that huge gap has a clear explanation??

          I really can’t say Vettel or Hamilton have been a lot better than Bottas on the whole this season. Bottas has clearly been close to Hamilton this year. I don’t know why you are already seeming to think they could do with better. Other than Australia and finishing 2nd in Bahrain, Bottas can’t have done any better. You are just expecting too much IMO. The driver you seem to rate highly such as Hamilton, clearly could have done better in China.

          1. @thegianthogweed I really do like VB, for what’s not to like, and there is tons of season yet so maybe with better luck…but I still just don’t see him as a gloves off kind of driver and I think that we as an audience deserve that gladiator v gladiator pairing on the top teams. And Toto Wolff has implied they, the racers at Mercedes, are about that too.

            Yes there are reasons VB is sitting where he is in the standings but those can’t be changed, and at -37 points, VB is already in a big uphill battle, doesn’t matter how he got there. Of course SV would love it if VB started to take points off of LH. But will he? Will he be allowed to unless he starts dominating LH…like…now? He’ll have to at least start dominating SV.

            Hey if VB proves me wrong and from here on challenges for the WDC, pushes LH, and locks Ferrari and RBR out, I’ll be thrilled for him and happily eat my words. But if he sits in a backseat role where Kimi seems to end up, then I’m not enthralled.

            It would be the type of strong rivalry that would see VB actually fighting for the WDC, that would also see Mercedes shutting out Ferrari and RBR. And I don’t see VB succeeding in his fight for the WDC.

            1. @robbie I guess for the sport’s owners and casual/neutral fans the best scenario is seeing closely matched teammates going at it hammer and tongs. But that also has its downside. Look at Senna and Prost or Hamilton and Alonso. Heck look at Ricciardo and Verstappen 2 races ago. The sentiment is good but for teams like Mercedes it’s quite stressful in practice. They have the absolute ideal situation at the moment. When their superstar driver is having an ordinary weekend their other driver is good enough to pick up the baton. But Bottasis doing more than that at the moment. He is very often leading the way and I’m sure his bosses are quite pleased by his performances. Again who is realistically gonna come in and do significantly better. To be honest with you I think Mercedes are more worried about the next Lewis Hamilton to carry the fight to the Verstappens of this world in the future. This round of contract negotiations has exposed how vulnerable Mercedes are actually. They have no superstar potential in their junior ranks and Russel doesn’t give me that vibe that the likes of Norris and Leclerc do.

            2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
              19th May 2018, 22:49

              @robbie

              To me it just seems that you haven’t seen an improvement in Bottas towards the end of last year and the start of this season. He’s basically beaten Hamilton in 6 out of the last 8 races. And half of them were totally down to Bottas clearly being the better of the 2. Brazil, Abu Dhabi, China and although Hamilton did win in Baku, I certainly can say Bottas did better and deserved that win.

              Then just take this year into consideration. He’s had 1 off weekend. Australia. Hamilton had one like this in Monaco last year. Made a mistake in qualifying at a track really hard to overtake on. Recovered to 7th. Similar to what Bottas managed in Australia.
              From then on, the results have been 3-1 to Bottas in terms of finishing ahead. Hamilton may have had a 5 place grid penalty in Bahrain, but he did get out qualified by Bottas. Bottas only missed out the win by a fraction of a second. Then after that, he was set to get the best possible team result in the next 3 races. But bad luck hit him hard in both China and especially Baku. For the team, just what could Bottas have done better in China, Baku and completing a 1 – 2 team finish in Spain?

              All it is is that to me, you seem doubtful that Bottas will be able to get back towards Hamilton. The main reason he’s far down is because of his luck. If his solid performance continues (which I certainly see an improvement compared to last year) , then he should maintain a similar gap. And given that Hamilton has always had 1 or 2 off weekends every year, I feel Bottas could climb his way back up that way. Remember Monaco, Russia and Brazil for Hamilton last year. And also reliability could have a factor. Bottas suffered last year. May be the other way round this time.

              I’m not trying to imply that I think Bottas is as good or better than Hamilton.. I just think he has improved and I happen to think that so far this season, they have been pretty even. The qualifying is 3 – 2 to Hamilton and the gaps between them are pretty small.

              I really don’t see a benefit with Mercedes going for any other driver next year if Bottas keeps this up. And are you thinking that Bottas won’t manage to keep his performance up? He’s maximised 3 races and come incredibly close in another. Australia being the bad one. I’d say Hamilton has maximised 3 races, was rather lucky in Baku (and his expression showed it) and was clearly off the pace in China. Is Hamilton really doing that much better than Bottas? Is Bottas looking to fill in when Hamilton isn’t on form? Pretty much yes.

              I partly understand your point about Mercedes having a more exciting driver than Bottas. But I don’t think that getting a new driver would work out better than keeping Bottas next year who will then be in his 3rd season with them. Rosberg didn’t manage to beat Hamilton until his 7th year with the team. And that was against Hamilton who had less experience in F1 and the team. Also, as soon as Bottas started with Mercedes, they were clearly not dominant in the way they were in 2014 – 2016. And yet Bottas managed to be closer to Hamilton in points than Rosberg was in 2014 or 2015 in his first season with Mercedes.

              The main thing I think that works better about Bottas and Hamilton compared to the previous team mates is the fact that they get a long, follow team orders and don’t crash into each other. If Rosberg was with Hamilton last year and did what him and Hamilton did in Spain in 2016, it will have affected them far more as their rival teams were much closer (therefore more of a threat to the drivers and constructors championship). But Bottas and Hamilton just seem to keep out of trouble. And generally, when Bottas has a bad day, Hamilton gets the job done, and usually, is a similar story the other way round.

              I guess we just have different views on how a team should be. I’m thinking this line up it getting more and more likely.

            3. @blackmamba @thegianthogweed Fair comments guys. For me I just don’t get that vibe from VB, but as I have said I’d be thrillled to be proven wrong on this, and would love to see him take the fight to LH, SV, and anyone else. Let’s see what he can do by mid-season to stamp his authority on the situation. I hope he is more than just ‘good enough’ to fill a gap if LH is having a bad day. I will never agree with a team philosophy that the Senna/Prost or LH/FA or LH/NR type pairings are to be avoided just because those can create a little stress or friction on the team. It’s about an enthralling show for hundreds of millions of people, not about a team manager’s life being made a little easier by having defacto designated ones and twos on the team. I hope VB is more than just a natural second to LH there to support him. That to me is not enthralling. Here’s hoping VB can enthrall us for the rest of the season, with some gloves off kind of stuff.

          2. @thegianthogweed, I have to agree with you – but for a few bits of misfortune on his part, Bottas would be right in the thick of the title fight and would actually be the leading Mercedes driver, not Hamilton.

            Had not the safety car played into Ricciardo’s favour in China, Bottas could well have gone on to win that race, whilst Baku was another race which could have fallen to him as well. Those two races arguably cost him 32 points, which would have put him onto a total of 90 points.

            Meanwhile, a normal race would probably have seen Hamilton finished 4th in China (Verstappen had already jumped ahead on strategy before that point), whilst a 2nd place finish would have seen Hamilton drop 7 points and put his points total back to 88 points.

            Now, there is an argument that if the opening races had been a bit more normal, Vettel would probably be in the lead of the WDC as, on balance, he’s probably lost more points than he has gained out of the misfortunes of some drivers on track – but Bottas would be right up there with him, and it would be him rather than Hamilton who’d be the leading Mercedes at this point in time.

            I would have to say that, whilst Bottas’s driving style doesn’t have the flair of some of his rivals and he has come under criticism for being a bit too passive on track, I do think that Bottas has been a more effective driver than he is being given credit for.

        3. But had it not been for a bit of debris he would have been 5points behind Hamilton and 7 ahead of Vettel. There’s less than 0.02 seconds between him and Hamilton from qualifying, and I think ANYONE would be rather pleased by that given the hard time fans seem to give him.

      2. The start of his lap in qualifying in Australia did look very quick, he was just trying that bit too hard.

        The start of his lap? What, the main straight? LOL

        He binned it on the 2nd corner man.

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          20th May 2018, 9:15

          Yes, that was my mistake. He was however quick at that part earlier on in the weekend, so like when people say Hamilton makes a mistake, it doesn’t mean he generally isn’t quick enough. That is the only time Bottas had been deemed responsible for his own or anyone else’s retirement in qualifying or the race in his whole career. Possibly even including practice sessions.

      3. Good posts @thegianthogweed

        Bottas’ pace is clearly picking up and no doubt the team is not even thinking about replacing him, but as seen from Hungary 2017 particularly where he felt guilty and was thanking Hamilton profusely for giving his own place back (that was the start of his season slump), he seems a long way off having what it takes to stand in a championship fight, especially against Hamilton who is not averse to play the odd mind game.

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          20th May 2018, 14:39

          Yes, That was then and I agree that for most of the 2nd half of the season, he had gone downhill. Even though his pace during the race in Haungary looked worse than Hamilton. He did what he needed to and preformed better than Hamilton in qualifying. And almost certainly will have kept Hamilton behind. So despite Hamilton being quicker, that return that Hamilton gave Bottas was the right thing to do and Bottas did deserve to beat him as he had likely done enough for the circumstances of the track to beat him without team orders. But from when Hamilton got the title last year to now, my point is that they have basically been matched.

      4. (@thegianthogweed)

        ” most will have to admit he clearly looked better in China and Baku overall. ”

        China yes, Baku no. In Baku, he was outqualified by Hamilton & left for dust by Hamilton in the 1st stint. Hamilton was ahead for 95% of that race and was the quicker driver overall.

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          21st May 2018, 9:01

          @buffy

          Erm… Bottas was ahead for over 50% of the race…

          Hamilton was quicker to start with. I agree with that. But basically, he tried too hard and locked up which forced him to pit. This is why I could even say being quicker than Bottas in this case happened not to work out. Then when he pitted (lap 23) he certainly wasn’t quicker than Bottas. Bottas was currently setting some fastest sectors of the race while Hamilton was now right on the limit of getting jumped by Bottas when Bottas pitted even without the safety car. Even then if Bottas came out behind, he will have been on much newer tyres (possibly a better compound due to not having to do many laps on them) And he almost certainly will have got past Hamilton and will have closed down on Vettel. I don’t think he will have quite managed to pass Vettel though.

          You can say Hamilton was quicker in qualifying and the first part of the race, but most of the race and the part that mattered to Bottas in terms of beating his team mate, he was clearly better and I don’t think many will argue. I have no clue where you get Hamilton was ahead for 95% of the race from. That is completely false and once he had pitted, he was either only as quick as Bottas or slower. Explaining why the gap just didn’t close before Bottas pitted.

          1. Don’t agree. Bottas was struggling with his tyres in the first stint. Hamilton wasn’t. As the quicker driver, Hamilton tried to hunt down Vettel. Bottas, by virtue of struggling with his tyres and being the slower driver, “lucked” into what turned out to be the better strategy and really was only in front because he hadn’t yet pitted. Even if he he had come out behind Hamilton on fresher tyres if there was no safety car, no guarantees he would be able to pass Hamilton. Bahrain is testament to that where he couldn’t even pass Vettel who was on extremely worn tyres.

            Like i said, Hamilton out- qualified Bottas, struggled less with his tyres, was quicker in the first stint, in real terms was ahead of Bottas for most of the race (as Bottas had not yet pitted) and put himself in a position to capitalise on Bottas’ tyre misfortune and won the race. Overall, i’d give that to Hamilton.

            1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
              21st May 2018, 13:37

              But you are ignoring an obvious reason why Bottas “lucked” into the better strategy. Hamilton made a mistake and said to his team that he couldn’t continue on his tyres. It was Hamilton’s mistake that got him behind and kept him behind Bottas. Bottas therefore did better in the race due to Hamilton’s mistake. And as the race in more importent than qualifying, I don’t see how anyone can really say Hamilton had a better weekend than Bottas. Bottas struggled a bit over the first few laps, wasn’t that much slower than Hamilton in qualifying and was faster in the middle stage of the race despite being on nearly 40 lap old tyres. Hamilton was quicker than Bottas at first. But made a mistake big enough to ruin his tyres. Otherwise he probably won’t have found himself in the situation he was in after he pitted. You can have your own opinion but I think you will be in the minority that think Hamilton was better than Bottas in baku. It very likely will have been due to his mistake that put him on what apparently was a worse strategy.

            2. (@thegianthogweed)

              Don’t agree. In real terms Bottas was never in front of Hamilton. The only reason Bottas was ahead was due to him not yet pitting. Even without the s/c, no guarantees Bottas would have emerged ahead of Hamilton after pitting.

              Bottas was slow in the first stint, and that lucked him into the better strategy.

              Hamilton was quicker over 1 lap, quicker in the first stint, didn’t struggle as much on the tyres, was ahead for most of the race(in real terms), and won the race. Plus why didn’t Bottas have the wherewithall to spot the debris? It was a massive fist size debris which he failed to spot. Bottas has to take some responsibility for this. And, i’m not the only one who thinks this. David Coulthard said similar.

              For me, Hamilton was overall better than Bottas. But rather than go round in circles, glad to agree to disagree.

            3. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
              22nd May 2018, 9:20

              Bottas’s replay from onboard was never shown so anyone saying he could see it can’t be sure. If you look exactly where it happened with the camera angle. Just before it happened, Bottas’s car was half hidden by a bump in the track. And the debris was right on this. It will have been ridiculously hard for any driver to spot from being in Bottas’s position. As the track levels will have made it far less visible, if at all. If the track had been flat, it is much more likely that he will have noticed it. Even when I’ve noticed bigger bits of debris on the main strait, if they are in a certain place, they can’t be seen from the drivers onboard view until the last moment. I’ve seen some drivers that just happened to not drive over debris but that was just because of where they happened to be. Bottas couldn’t really have done much more. Mercedes said they would have instantly told Bottas if they had noticed any debris on the track so that must have come pretty late.

              And I don’t know what you mean by Hamilton not struggling on the tyres as much. Maybe not in the first stint, but in the 2nd stint he wasn’t quicker than Bottas when Bottas was on nearly 40 lap old tyres. This was for virtually half the race so I don’t get your view here. And Bottas often had got within just enough time ahead of Hamilton to jump him if he pitted. Though that gap was right on the limit.

              But the thing that I don’t get with your view is that even if Bottas didn’t do that good a job, Hamilton was the one at fault for having to pit early. So Bottas didn’t have to be the only Mercedes driver to “luck” into the better strategy. Hamilton ruined his chances of doing that by ruining his tyres. So there is one negative point for Hamilton. Then because of this he got put on the tyres he was on and for most of the race from then on, was most certainly not quicker than Bottas. And that is why I am so puzzled to why you can say Hamilton had a better race. This “ahead for most of the race in real terms” seems ridiculous. It was Hamilton’s fault he wasn’t.

    7. Re-COTD
      A 1.5sec lap time loss would be clawed back my engineers in half season on aero alone! So for all those saying it’s not going to challenge the drivers are incorrect. They still have to thread those cars at high speed through many tough corners during the season and if they can get closer to each other it will challenge their mental capacity even more knowing they may well have a chance to gain places. It’s takes the emphasis from one are and moves it to another, rather than reducing challenges.

      1. Agreed.

    8. 1.5 seconds is nothing to worry about. In the end lap time is all about downforce. Even if you take the heaviest ever f1 cars by a large margin (2018 cars) you can make them really fast just by adding lots and lots of downforce. The lap records which come from 2004 and 2005 were done on skinny grooved slicks, third of the downforce and much lighter cars with similar power levels. Technically inferior compared to the modern tech but if the 2004-5 cars had had this much downforce the obese 2017-18 cars could never catch them.

      But we are stuck with these heavy obese engines so it is hard to change it. I don’t think going back to 2016 is a good idea because you’d just continue where we left off with total mercedes domination. We can’t go forward by adding more downforce because adding downforce just makes passing harder. We need to have less downforce but we don’t want to go back to 2016 either. We need to find a third direction where we have less downforce but don’t end up with 2016 regulations. Lap times will fall but cares? We are not talking about walking off the cliff. Something like 5-7 seconds is still faster than anything else in this world by a large margin.

      The thing is these 2017-2018 regulations should have never happened. Everybody knew it is a mistake. Just like the change to hybrid engines was a huge costly mistake. We are sadly stuck with these prius engines but aero we can change. Hopefully the people in charge don’t care about couple of seconds when they fix this.

      1. @socksolid ”We need to have less downforce but we don’t want to go back to 2016 either. We need to find a third direction where we have less downforce but don’t end up with 2016 regulations.”
        – No, we don’t necessarily need to have less downforce, but only more simplified stuff on the cars and or ways to generate downforce that are less clean air-dependent. I’ve pointed out this before, but the ‘amount’ of downforce isn’t really the problem, but rather how it’s generated, and how complex the front wings are, etc. Hopefully, the technical reg changes for 2021 would be that we could have both the lap times back in the 2017-18 levels as well as closer racing, i.e., cars that could achieve both similar lap times to 2017-18 as well as be significantly more race-able/following-friendly one way or another.

        1. You just keep saying things that are not true. Like a broken record.

          Add downforce = makes passing more difficult. It is like that in every race car believe it or don’t. You can play with ground effects, wing sizes, remove or add winglets but every time you work on the airflow it causes dirty air behind. The more you work the airflow with bigger wings the more dirty air. Ground effects also create dirty air. But you’ll probably deny that too. Research your claims even once or please don’t ever reply to me again… The amount of downforce IS the issue. It is basic physics. Unless we are talking about fan cars or anti-gravity.

          Only way f1 can (in any scenario) add downforce without increasing dirty air or its effect on the car is by covering the wheels like lemans prototypes do. Do we want that? But please correct me with actual proof written by race car aerodynamicists and/or scientific studies where it is concluded that amount of downforce has no correlation with ability to pass. I’ve read quite a few articles but never seen one where it is nothing else except a concrete fact that adding downforce hurts racing. Even nascar with their cars with minimal downforce levels (comparatively) get better to drive when they remove downforce. If your magic trick worked in reality then why is NO ONE using it?

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