Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2019

‘Someone will put it in the wall’ chasing the fastest lap bonus, predicts Wolff

2019 F1 season

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff expects a Formula 1 driver will crash out of a race while trying to score the new bonus point for fastest lap.

“I am always sceptical about our guys putting in the fastest lap,” said Wolff, “because one day someone’s going to end up in the wall and throw away a lot of points. And I hope it’s not going to be a Mercedes.”

Wolff has previously told his drivers not to push at the end of races to score the extra point, which was reintroduced to F1 this year. However he described the rule as a “good idea” which has created “discussion whether you take risks or nor.”

The appearance of a Safety Car in the final laps of the Bahrain Grand Prix ruled out any late attempts to set fastest lap. Wolff pointed out Red Bull could have had an opportunity to put Max Verstappen on a fresh set of tyres to go for the bonus, but the team wanted to take advantage of a potential chance to pass Charles Leclerc’s ailing Ferrari for third place.

“I think that if not for Leclerc, Max would have had a free stop,” said Wolff. “That fell away when Charles had the problem.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said the team was considering a late pit stop for Verstappen. “If you look at it, you’ve got a free pit stop for a point,” he said. “It would be worth a roll of the dice at that point. It opens up a new dynamic which is interesting.”

Wolff’s driver Valtteri Bottas is leading the championship thanks to the bonus point he scored in the Australian Grand Prix. He said the fastest lap points could make the difference at the end of the year.

“They are points that will count at the end of the championship,” he said. “Obviously, now, at this point, it doesn’t matter much but what matters is at the end of the championship and we’ve seen many championships finishing with very small margins.”

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61 comments on “‘Someone will put it in the wall’ chasing the fastest lap bonus, predicts Wolff”

  1. Drivers pushing the limits, crossing them… what is the issue?

    1. This is actually the best argument to support the FLAP point; risk and reward.

      We should include in the yearly predictions which driver is the first to ‘put it in the wall chasing the FLAP’.
      My money is on Verstappen (I don’t think Gasly will have as many opportunities to chase the FLAP being stuck behind a STR).

      1. My thoughts exactly Max will bin it first.

      2. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
        9th April 2019, 10:27

        I’m gonna go for Vettel, although Verstappen and Gasly would be tied for second. Verstappen made a lot of mistakes last year, but he’s been a lot better this year, whilst Vettel cracks increasingly often

        And Gasly… yeah. By the looks of it, he’s gonna have to push really hard to match any of the other five, increasing the chances of him making a mistake

        1. I say Bottas. He made plenty of driving errors last year and he seems to have a real bee in his bonnet about the FLAP to boot. I predict it will happen before the summer break and he will revert back to Bottas 1.0.

    2. Did you read the article? He praises the new rule, while telling his drivers not to go after that last point for strategic reasons.

      That’s something your allowed to do when you run a race team.

    3. for me it depends on the position, someone currently in first is risking 25 points to gain 1. Where as someone lets say in 10th would be risking 1 point to make 100% gain and get 2. Someone completely out of the points so technically have the most drive to get that 1 point as they have the least to lose. The risk reward gets harder to justify as you go up positions from 10th.

      1. Someone completely out of the points so technically have the most drive to get that 1 point

        No FLAP point if outside top 10.

  2. Well, in the nicest possible way, let’s hope he’s right. Formula One thrives off drama and controversy and something like this happening would be exciting.

    Two races in, I’m feeling ok with the extra point for Fastest Lap and feel it’s gone to the “right” person in both races so far. It’ll be interesting to see how it pans out over the rest of the season.

    1. isaac (@invincibleisaac)
      9th April 2019, 10:38

      @ben-n I agree. It would be exciting if someone makes a costly mistake whilst trying to get the fastest lap, and so far it has brought more excitement than I thought it would. 2 races in and it has gone to a worthy driver for the race, although Canada last year popped to mind. I can’t remember which way round it was but one of the Red Bull drivers got the official fastest lap over the other one when the chequered flag was brought out too early so the latter fastest lap did not count. Although this is pretty unlikely to happen again.

    2. I watched the race in Bahrain and it was dramatic enough in itself that not even the Sky commentators realized about the fastest lap point. I still don’t know who got it.

      Unless someone crashes going for it, it’s going to be as exciting as watching paint dry.

    3. @ben-n – Yeah I agree, if someone does crash trying for it, so be it!

  3. Will they though? They drivers would have done a lot of laps and be in the rhythm by that point, and if it’s one of the top teams doing a stop for fresh softs they’ll not likely have to push like qualifying to get it.

    I just want to take this last moment to point out how bad Renault’s strategy with Ricciardo was. With 10 laps to go he could have pitted and come out 10th with a fresh set of softs to overtake on and set a fastest lap with nothing to lose, instead they left him out to languish on a terrible one stop strat on overly old mediums that would have ended him out of the points anyway. Didn’t matter cos of their mechanical faults anyway, but damn, they suck at strategy and haven’t got a grip on the fastest lap deal at all.

    1. Agreed on all points, particularly Ricciardo’s poor strategy.

      Incidentally, if your suggestion did occur (Ricciardo pits, sets Fastest Lap and then retires), would the point go to the next fastest in the Top 10 or nobody (because the Fastest Lap driver did not finish)? I don’t think I’ve yet seen clarification on this.

      1. Nobody gets a point if the fastest lap is set by a driver outside of the top 10.

        1. Could that be used strategically?

          Say a car is outside the top 10 with no chance to get back in the points, but preventing a rival from getting an extra point for fastest lap could help them in the WDC fight. Would you see them pitting to get FL, wrecking their rivals chances of getting a potentially crucial extra point on them?

    2. @skipgamer Yeah I too think that for the most part the fastest lap point getter will have already been in a rhythm and will indeed just get it naturally rather than pitting, but if he pits for tires he’ll have earned that gap to pit by already being pretty hooked up to begin with. Otherwise I can see TW being right that perhaps someone will bin it but I think that might only happen to a 5th to 10th place driver/constructor who is desperate for the point as the season winds down.

    3. @skipgamer “They drivers would have done a lot of laps and be in the rhythm by that point, and if it’s one of the top teams doing a stop for fresh softs they’ll not likely have to push like qualifying to get it.”
      Exactly. Given that fastest lap is typically several seconds (at least) slower than the pole lap, getting the flap on a fresh set of softs shouldn’t be much of a gamble, driving wise.

  4. You pay your top driver like 40 million to drive laps for you, surely you can trust him to put in a fast lap without trashing your car, Toto.

    1. @aiii Fully agreed.

    2. @aiii

      My thoughts too. With Hamilton and Bottas you have to like your chances.

    3. @aiii A classic Toto case of over-parenting. Go out there and have fun Lewis and Valtteri, but for heaven’s sake don’t race!!

  5. Sush Meerkat
    9th April 2019, 9:11

    I’m with Toto on this one, I think it’s outrageous that a formula 1 driver is expected to drive at the limit of what is humanly possible within the boundaries of mechanical engineering excellence.

    They race on a Sunday and should treat it as a Sunday drive. F1 is a business, not a sport!

    1. well, these days it’s more Business > Entertainment > Sport …………..> road relevant technology test bed ( I mean, you could make that argument in the past at least)

  6. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    9th April 2019, 9:22

    I predict that the drivers in the top few positions would only push for this if they felt 100% comfortable with the car. Otherwise it just would’t be worth it. Bottas said the car just felt excellent in the first race. Otherwise I think what he did will have been a bit too risky. Unless they feel totally comfortable, i think getting fastest lap will be more important for those lower down in the top 10 as you hve less points to loose if something goes wrong when taking the risks.

  7. I think the bigger risk is a bungled pitstop to be honest.
    Either way it provides the chance for a bit of chaos in the race and seeing as I am not a fan of any one team or driver that can only provide more entertainment for me.
    Heartache and nervous breakdowns for some …. but entertainment for me :)

    1. It could be that by going for the Fastest Lap Leclerc contributed to the loss in his car’s performance.

  8. I think it’s just a matter of time before a driver puts in the wall when chasing a fast lap. It’s inevitable. Especially, when the championship gets tight towards the end of the season, you’d have the chasing team / driver just go for the extra point.

    1. @todfod And especially in somewhere like Monaco, Singapore, or Baku.

      1. @jerejj But Baku and Monaco are coming up soon, and I agree with @todfod that if someone bins it for this point it is going to be out of desperation for that point as things start shaking out nearer the end of the season. Even Singapore is only round 15 and I’m not sure one point at that point is going to be worth very much risk. It will all depend on where everyone stands amongst each other. Without doubt, the very key question for teams and drivers all season long is going to be whether or not it is worth the risk of binning it for one point, thus forgoing the greater number of points a driver was already sitting with had he not risked anything and just ensured finishing where he was.

        1. @robbie Yes, those take place early into the season, but I was more referring to the lack of run-off areas on the street circuits, which is why the probability of crashing out due to chasing the FL for an extra point is higher than it would be on a permanent venue especially those were there are vast run-off areas, such as, Circuit Paul Ricard, COTA, or YMC, for instance.

  9. I highly doubt we’re going to see anyone bin it while chasing fastest lap… this isnt f3 or lower tier racing

    1. digitalrurouni
      9th April 2019, 13:15

      I wholeheartedly agree. And the way these tires are and the way these cars are set up for the race, and the amount of time difference between a quali lap and a race lap being SO huge, I doubt they will bin it. Though I can see Grosjean binning it lol.

  10. FLAP 1 point award doesn’t make any sense.
    I was against it, am against it, and will be against it, even if Lewis wins the championship thanks to FLAP points.

    Another purely artificial way to create a “show” on the last 2 laps.

    1. What’s artificial about a FLAP? It has been an official pay off F1 and motorsports since day one!
      You might not like it, but that doesn’t make it artificial. @DAllein

  11. tony mansell
    9th April 2019, 10:46


  12. It would be stupid to waste engine life. Unless of course this was the last planned race with that particular engine.

    1. Lemme get this straight, your saying the details matter?

  13. While everything about F1 is an artificial way to create a show based around contest, I don’t feel like fastest race lap is a particularly valid way of rewarding performance.

    The fastest lap already gets set during qualifying in a true head to head battle. Award a point for that by all means, but during the race we are meant to be challenging the drivers to the fastest race distance. A fastest lap point feels especially contrived.

    What else? Most overtakes? Most positions gained? Longest tyre life? It’s an overcomplication in a sport that’s already not that easy to get into.

    1. @philipgb But the extra point is one that can be achieved ‘naturally’ simply by racing one’s race and seeing who gets it in the end without having risked anything. Ie. going for the point can be voluntary or it can just happen without any one driver specifically going for it, but just happening to get it from just racing. So in that sense I don’t see it as contrived. Certainly I see no reason for your other sarcastic suggestions, as I don’t see the fastest lap point as an over complication at all.

      1. My “sarcastic” suggestions can all be achieved naturally by racing a race. What they all have in common with fastest lap is they don’t determine what the point of a race is which is finishing position

        Why I take issue with it is how it influences the championship. Bottas last year would have taken 3rd with this award despite winning no races while Verstappen and Raikkonen did

        They go Grand Prix racing too find the fastest race car, a single lap doesn’t reflect that when teams are toying with taking a pit stop to secure it

        And the actual fastest laps are set in qualifying, those are the single fastest laps that matter

        1. @philipgb Fair enough. For me I just don’t expect too many extraordinary measures taken by the drivers actually vying for the WDC to achieve this point. They will try for it if it is not too risky but they will not throw away 25 or 18 points for it.

  14. Someone will put it in the wall : I bet for Vettel.

  15. Neil (@neilosjames)
    9th April 2019, 13:28

    Finding a wall to crash into on a lot of modern circuits would be a greater challenge than setting the fastest lap.

    I suppose it could happen if someone had sufficient motivation to really go on the attack – a title contender in in the latter part of the season, perhaps. But normally a 95% lap on fresh tyres would be more than enough for one of the top teams to take the extra point, and race-ending solo errors are so rare nowadays that the biggest danger (by far) will always be pit stop errors, sticky wheelnuts, stuff like that.

    1. The FIA mandates that any car suffering from a stuck throttle is to run out of fuel before encountering any solid obstacle on the grounds of safety. Thats why tracks are growing ever more boring the more economical the engines get

  16. Toto just radiates dullnes.
    Could they at least hire someone completely crazy to keep him in check? i hear Bernie is bored atm

  17. Toto will put his mouth in the wall at his current rate

    1. That makes no sense but you rarely post anything that does.

  18. While my first thought is he has really great drivers, I think he might be right about the risk out weighing the reward.

    I don’t remember the last time Merc botched a pit stop, so let’s consider Merc + their closest rival Ferrari. Ferrari botched a pit stop last year, so let’s assume 1 of 40 stops (4 cars x 20 races) is botched. 2.5%.

    Let’s also assume the WDC will be decided around 275 points. So 1 point is less than 1/3 of 1%. So far it doesn’t sound like a good bet.

    Then we have to figure in drivers crashing out. Let’s consider qualifying our best data. Hamilton crashed out one time in 2 of the last three seasons. So 2/60, or 3.3%.

    Yeah, I see where he is coming from.

    1. WDC will be decided around 275 points. So 1 point is less than 1/3 of 1%.

      You win the WDC if you have more points than #2. Thus the 275 is irrelevant, but more so the gap to the next one. If this gap is 1 point (happened before) than a single FLAPpoint would be 100% decisive.

  19. Worth remembering that Alonso and Hamilton could have a number of additional championships just with this small change…

  20. And hopefully it’s Hamilton and Bottas.

  21. I was skeptical at first but I’m now fully in favor of the fastest lap point. But Bottas has shown us how critical this could be and given how much drivers are limited by tire and even fuel saving, giving them an option to go flat out, at the limit – I’m in favor of it now.

    As far as whether or not they crash? That’s one of the things separates the greats from the others.

    BTW, they had the same rule in F1 for a few years back in the 50’s. I’m too lazy to look it up now but wasn’t there a drivers championship that was decided by 1 point, where the driver had a fastest lap in one of the races?

    1. @partofthepuzzle 1958 Mike Hawthorn beat Stirling Moss by one point. Hawthorn set 5 fastest laps to Moss’s 3. Hawthorn however had to divest himself of 7 WDC points as only the six best results counted. Race winner was 8 polnts while the fastest lap was worth 1 point.

  22. There are lots of reasons why the FLAP point is a bad idea, but someone crashing out chasing it very definitely isn’t one!

    I’m surprised Toto lets them do qualifying.

    1. I’m surprised Toto lets them do qualifying


  23. F1oSaurus (@)
    9th April 2019, 21:08

    Could be fun if the championships is really close though.

  24. On most tracks now there are hardly any walls to put it into, its typical zero risk team boss just wanting to plod along and collect another boring 1-2, we should be encouraging driver’s to push not backing off after the last (or sometimes only) round of pit stops

  25. when you are driving a F1 car, one day you may going to end up in the wall, just saying~~~

  26. Crashing while going for the FLAP could change the outcome of a race. F.i. more finishes under a safety car? Like last race when both Renault’s gave up. I know this was not a crash but it changed the outcome of the race. Ves would have been third (a position they did not deserve he admitted)

  27. Toto must be making this prediction based on all the drivers who regularly go “bin it” while trying to do the fastest lap in qualifying …

    … oh wait, that doesn’t happen …

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