Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2019

Bottas: ‘We didn’t want a silly mistake in the first race’

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In the round-up: Valtteri Bottas says he didn’t pit for fresh tyres at the end of the Australian Grand Prix because Mercedes didn’t want to start the season with a “silly mistake”.

What they say

Bottas had the opportunity to make a pit stop for fresh tyres to improve his chances of scoring the point for fastest lap. He didn’t do so but he scored the bonus point for fastest lap anyway.

Obviously getting the big amount of points from the result itself is a much bigger priority and second priority the fastest lap.

But once the gap to behind was decent there was enough margin to speak about that and make a plan for that. I asked about possibly a pit stop. It’s something we actually spoke before the race that at the first race of the season you don’t want to do silly mistake, we want to be maybe slightly on the conservative side in terms of operations. Obviously still racing hard and being the best we can but we need to make sure we do get the big points.

So that’s why we didn’t stop in the end because stopping again it’s always one more risk whether it’s at the same time there’s a Safety Car or whether there’s an issue with the pit stop or something so we just decided in the last few laps even though I was in traffic I was trying to find a bit of a gap, pulling back some cars behind, to some other engine modes and went for a quick lap. I’m glad I got it, it’s one point more.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

Have we passed ‘Peak F1’?

Electric power is great for general transportation where it makes sense, but so far it doesn’t seem to translate well to mainstream motorsport. Of course I’d say the same thing about F1’s ‘hybrid’ formula, but the big thing Formula E has going for it is that it is sufficiently new and different that it gets some attention outside of the traditional motorsports press (e.g. tech, eco, science media) due to that fact, which is of course good news for Formula E.

Maybe it’s a generational thing and non-internal-combustion-engine motorsports will appeal to people that don’t have their roots dug deeply into traditional motorsports, but at this point I hold very little hope that Liberty is capable of pulling a rabbit out of the F1 hat in 2021 that builds and renews interest in F1 as we know it. Whether they were lucky or good is irrelevant at this point, but it seems that CVC realised that ‘Peak F1’ had been achieved, saw the writing on the wall and cashed out to Liberty at just the right time.

Maybe I’ve become an old codger living in the past, but I was left with a rather unpleasant sense of ‘hybrid-era’ deja vu after watching the Australian Grand Prix last weekend. And while I hope to be pleasantly surprised as this season progresses, I didn’t bother watching the last two or three races of last season and I expect that my interest will wane even earlier this season. Whatever happens, at least we’ll have our memories!
Mike (@mrvco)

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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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  • 24 comments on “Bottas: ‘We didn’t want a silly mistake in the first race’”

    1. ‘Peak F1’? Uncertain.

      It was certainly the peak of what CVC could suck out of F1. There was no value left on the carcass. The option of taking F1 public was off the tilted table, so it was shrewd (and lucky) of CVC to find a buyer. Although they only received $350M in cash from Liberty, they off-loaded the $3.4B debt they created while siphoning an estimated $4.4 billion from Delta Topco through dividends and share sales.

      As part of the sale, CVC received a large holding of Liberty shares – expect they want F1 to be a twin peaks story.

      1. I’m still wondering what motivated Liberty to purchase what seemed to be a lame duck in the first place and I’m sure they have a number of shareholders asking the same question.

        Given the price they paid, I can’t help thinking that they have a plan that’s yet to reveal itself. Still can’t get past the feeling that F1 as we know it will disappear and be replaced entirely by a mammothly upgraded e sport series controlled solely by the media company. Real cars and real teams to be replaced by virtual cars, teams and drivers. Engineers and aero people replaced by software designers and the whole series to be run 24×7 from gaming consoles with thousands of regional racing leagues running their F1 races on virtual circuits.

        Advertising revenue would be huge (social media/gaming seems to be the new advertisers marketplace) as would revenue from “in game” purchases for items like softer tyres, as aero upgrades, turbo boost/party modes etc.

        I’m sure that If Liberty can generate more profit from owning the rights and never having a real race, they would.

        1. I’m still wondering what motivated Liberty to purchase what seemed to be a lame duck in the first place and I’m sure they have a number of shareholders asking the same question.

          F1 back then had very much ignored the digital markets. I don’t think f1 had any kind of online presence except its website and neither did it allow its teams and drivers to have it either. No streaming thing either, no social media. Just advertising golden clocks for old people. Now it has all those things and more to some degree. I wonder if there was as much money in it as they hoped or thought. Some of these things were things f1 needed years and years ago. Now it is so late that in some cases it is almost detrimental to have it.

          I don’t think the problem with f1 is its ability to make money. It is very good at that. Problem is and was that f1 was locked into this complex set of contracts which give liberty very limited possibilities to fix it. The engines are bad, the big manufacturers control the sport, the deals with venues get harder and harder every day, the teams want more money and liberty themselves is spending more money than before just to steer the ship towards better weather only for the big teams to fight them at every turn. Bernie sold lots of rights to the teams in return of more money but liberty is not getting any of that money but still have to respect the deals bernie made.

    2. As another old codger (COTD) I can remember electric buses and trams running without batteries, great weight savings there, I look forward to future F1 races with an electrified mesh strung above the track, the electricity transferred down to the car by a sprung pole with a carbon “brush” atop, now that will provide a serious penalty for running off, and no, their will be no points for punting your opponent off.

      1. Brilliant, @hohum. Scalextrics for big kids!

        1. If it has an electrified mesh above the track that then it’ll be more like bumper cars. Maybe something for NASCAR.

          I expect two spots in the tarmac, with a few crossover points, for F1.

      2. With modern tech we can do even better with wireless charging. And I’m not even kidding. The battery technology is not developing fast enough for f1 to go full electrical in many decades. Scalestrix tracks with charging wireless units installed on the track surface or above is very much a real possibility for f1 I think.

        1. How about the charging strip is only on the racing line and a car only holds enough full charge to go off the racing line for a few seconds then drops to half charge/speed.
          This would make overtaking even more challenging and difficult …… Oh ….. hang on ….. ;)

      3. and the driver is the earth

    3. Re:COTD
      Why does F1 and FE fandom have to be mutually exclusive!? I get the impression that fans feel the need to putdown one or the other to justify our fandom, but still complain loudly about our preferred series (re: DRS if you’re an F1 fan/ or Fanboost if you’re an FE fan etc)

      If you’re a TRUE Motorsports fan, then you should appreciate each series for what it delivers. As an F1 fan I can appreciate the strategy and technology that produces the results that it does despite the unlevel playing field and as a FE fan I can appreciate the so called ‘gimmicks’ that produce the results and wheel to wheel racing.

      If we could combine the best of both, great! But we, true fans of Motorsports, should be able to appreciate the strengths of both series. Why do we always have to blow out the candle of the other series to try and make our preferred one seem better!?

      1. Sorry, I shouldn’t have called out the COTD as it is relatively balanced . My comment was directed at the divide between F1/FE generally

      2. @johnnyrye The point is that (apart from all the gimmicks) FE has more in common with GP3. Same power levels and car
        speeds at least. This year it’s even quite similar to WTC in the way the cars bounce off of each other.

        Sure GP3 or WTC can also be fun to watch, but no one in GP3 or WTC is pretending it’s on even remotely the same level as F1. With FE however, they ridiculously seem to feel the need to compare themselves to F1. That just invites people to put them down.

    4. Nice to see IndyCar is committed to not enforcing track limits at COTA. Fun watching everyone use all the runoff on the exit of turn 19!

      1. I think race control declared there is considerable leeway on track limits this weekend, yes.
        And turn 19 really shows the difference in cornering performance the DW-12 with UAK18 has to F1 regulations, and where the big difference is made. In the technical sector as they named it.
        From what I saw, they have very poor grip on the primary tire, and the option isn’t much better.
        But they’ll get it dialled it in by qualy, the teams and Firestone are professionals at this.
        Can’t wait for the weekend to advance!

    5. Yawn at another generic “F1 is doomed”, looking at the past with rose tinted glasses, COTD

      The Melbourne race wasn’t great but to see these comments pop up and even get the recognition is twice more boring

      1. Would +1 if possible.

      2. +1

        The last two seasons have been great. Those who insist they don’t enjoy it need to sod off and find a new hobby.

    6. I disagree with the COTD.

    7. I was very concerned during the Aus GP when Bottas started hinting at a pit stop but not just because of the chance of something accidentally went wrong.
      It is all to easy for a team to favour one driver by messing up the other drivers stop, we all know that, and even if it was a genuine error the conspiracy theorists would be howling from the rooftops for months.
      I breathed a sigh of relief when he stayed out.

      1. “went wrong” = “going wrong” …. I got that wrong!

      2. It’s pretty simple to favour one driver in your team when one is paid $30m salary, and the other a $3m salary.

    8. Haha..that’s what I always say….the only way Merc would back Bottas is if Hamilton has a catastrophic run of form or a breakdown of some kind…other wise, as you say, it just does not make economic sense!

    9. As with many aspects of life on this planet, gentrification is taking hold and sterilising F1. Even the era of Ferrari/Schumacher domination was more thrilling than what we have now. I didn’t watch a single race live last year after spending almost 20 years living and breathing my F1 obsession. There is no way I can justify giving over an entire weekend to follow this sport anymore which is sad.

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