Valtteri Bottas, Max Verstappen, Monaco, 2019

Mercedes: Bottas did ‘perfect’ job slowing field before pit stop

2019 Monaco Grand Prix

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Mercedes say Valtteri Bottas did everything he could to ensure he didn’t lose a position when Mercedes pitted both their drivers under the Safety Car in the Monaco Grand Prix.

Bottas, who was running in second place behind Lewis Hamilton at the time, slowed the field as they approached the pits to ensure Mercedes had enough time to change Hamilton’s tyres before attending to his. However Mercedes’ motorsport strategy director James Vowles revealed Hamilton hit a wheel gun as he left the pit box, which caused a slight delay to Bottas’s pit stop.

“When you come in for a ‘double stack’ Safety Car [pit stop], what’s really important is making a gap between your cars so that the first car can be serviced in the pit lane and the second one can slot straight in,” said Vowles. “And Valtteri did that perfectly on track.

“Lewis had his pit stop, drove out and you would’ve seen Valtteri came straight back in again. And now it’s a straight race between Vettel, Verstappen and Valtteri for a pit stop. Unfortunately as Lewis left, he clipped one of the guns and it took just a few seconds for them to reset properly and the cost to us was a couple of tenths. That’s it, but that’s all you need.”

The slight delay to Bottas’s pit stop helped Red Bull get Max Verstappen out in front of him, which led to contact between the pair.

“We had a couple of tenths loss on Valtteri’s pit stop, Red Bull had a very, very good pit stop. One of the best of the year for them.

“Those extremes meant that as the cars went out and were in the pit lane, Verstappen came alongside, hit the left-hand side of Valtteri’s car, pushing the right-hand side into the wall and damaging that front-right wheel.”

The stewards did not rule Bottas had broken the rules by driving “unnecessarily slowly” when the Safety Car was deployed. Another driver who reduced his pace at this point was Williams driver George Russell, who slowed almost to a stop as he approached the pit lane entrance while he team decided whether he should pit.

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Valtteri Bottas’s team radio from the Safety Car deployment

To Bottas:Safety Car, Safety Car, so box, box, box.
To Bottas:So stay positive on delta. We are stacking.
To Bottas:Very safe on delta.
To Bottas:Lewis half a second ahead.
To Bottas:Lewis one second.
To Bottas:Lewis 1.5.
To Bottas:Let’s go more safe on that delta, please.
To Bottas:Two and a half, three seconds.
To Bottas:Two and a half, more please. Three and a half. Four seconds.
To Bottas:That’s good, Valtteri.

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55 comments on “Mercedes: Bottas did ‘perfect’ job slowing field before pit stop”

  1. I am really curious what the rules are on driving “too” slow. Sirotkin got a penalty for this some time ago, what did he do differently?

    1. He was not driving for Mercedes.

      1. Lewis Hamilton got a penalty for doing what bottas did at Bahrain last year or the year before so good try.

        1. I think that was directly on the entrance to the pits though, with a car going normal speed behind. This was a safer situation. I can’t remember Sirotkin’s penalty as another comparison, however.

          1. @hugh11, that is correct – in the case of Hamilton, it was the fact that he slowed down quite sharply at the entrance of the pit lane that resulted in him being penalised.

            In the case of Sirotkin, he was slowing down a lot more than the cases listed above – the team told him to build a gap of at least 8 seconds to Stroll, meaning Sirotkin slowed down by quite a large amount.

          2. @Anon: So 5 seconds that Bottas did was OK, but 8 seconds was way too much. Does sound like a dubious way to decide on penalties. In my opinion you should either be allowed to set your own pace, or not.
            On the other hand, I am happy they did not hand Bottas a penalty, less penalties almost always better. As long as some other driver is not penalized differently in the rest of the season.

    2. Russel slowed to a complete crawl near the pit entry, waiting for his team to call him in, he was lucky he was last and no one behind him, I’m sure a complaint would have been done over the radio.

    3. hE wASnT iN a MErcEDes

      No actually Sirotkin left more than 10 car lengths when the safety car had already collected the field. It’s pretty simple but the twitterati need something, anything to latch onto.

      1. Ok before everybody starts with why didnt bottas get a penalty because he was in a Mercedes. I’m pretty sure Lewis Hamilton got a penalty last year or in 2017 at Bahrain for slowing down to much on the way to pit under the safety car.

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          30th May 2019, 21:35

          Hamilton had Ricciardo behind him then. He did slow down a lot before the pit lane yes, but continued to drive slower than the pit lane speed limit when he was there. Bottas last race was not going too slow in the actual pit lane. He only slowed down in the entry, which seems to be fine even if people don’t think it should be. If Hamilton only slowed down here in Bahrain, he would ahve got away with it. But it was clear that once him and Ricciardo were in the pitlane, Ricciardo had to speed back up again when Hamilton pitted, showing Hamilton was holding him up where he shouldn’t have. There is a difference.

      2. No actually Sirotkin left more than 10 car lengths when the safety car had already collected the field.

        That is complete nonsense.
        The safety car came out because of the crash on the first lap and Sirotkin immediately slowed Vettel down behind him that lap. No one had even finished the first lap when Sirotkin started slowing him down.

    4. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
      30th May 2019, 12:27

      The only way “driving too slow” won’t happen is to ban pit stops under the safety car (granted there may need to be a few exceptions for punctures etc). This will also be safer. 20 cars heading for the pit lane at the same time, under stress seem like a recipe for an accident.

      1. You are 100% correct. Banning pit stops during sc and vsc will make the racing on track better too.

        1. It certainly worked out well for Fernando in Singapore. Kinda screwed Rosberg out of his first F1 win, though.

      2. F1oSaurus (@)
        1st June 2019, 10:37

        @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk F1 had that rule before and it was scrapped again for very good reasons.

        1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
          4th June 2019, 8:20

          Which were?

  2. Right… we got that cleared than…probably the reason to why Verstappen only received a mild penalty…Mercedes bending the rules a bit.

    To my opinion quite smart…but it gained Bottas a place he’de surely would have lost otherwise…the FIA let them off the hook with it

    1. Mercedes did bend any rule.

      It is the FIA whom bend the rule by not giving Verstappen the by the rulebook mandated (38.3 (d) ) 10 sec stop and go for an unsafe pitstop.

      Now let Ross Brown explain why again for Verstappen there appears to be a different rulebook than for the other 21 drivers.

      1. Mercedes *did not* bend any rules

      2. Probably finding that balance of dishing out penalties but not taking anything from the show.

        1. Then they should ditch the rule book.

      3. Bottas challenged the ‘drive unnecessarily slowly’ rule quite smartly, he could have been panalized for it as it had a great strategic advantage over Verstappen… Max’ mild 5 sec was probably for good reasons

        1. 27.4 At no time may a car be driven unnecessarily slowly, erratically or in a manner which could be
          deemed potentially dangerous to other drivers or any other person.

          He did not endanger any other driver or person with his slowing before the pitlane. There is no challenge of any rule there.

          1. F1oSaurus (@)
            1st June 2019, 10:30

            there is an “or” in that sentence. So the “deemend potentially dangerous” is not directly related to the first half

    2. Not sure what Verstappen’s penalty got to do with Bottas’ strategy. I’m sometimes critical of stewards’ decisions (unsafe release penalty was lenient), but still trust them enough that they don’t nett out various offences.

      Overall well done by Bottas, but I prefer that they cannot play these games under VSC. It will also create a new strategic challenge for the team in 1-2 position.

  3. Its crazy that you are allowed to speed up and slow down like that during a safetycar where overtaking is forbidden and you are supposed to drive careful…

    Its a disgrace disrespecting the safetycar like that. The same type of behaviour that Bianchi had when he disrespected the yellows and paid with his life and more importantly endangered the lifes of the marshals.

    1. B driving slowly didn’t risk anyone.

      1. Was Hamilton driving slowly though er I think not he suddenly sped up half way through the lap!!!! For me this is cheating what’s stopping other cars slowing down enough gap to replace a front wing ? Or work on the car this is not in the spirit is the sport !

    2. @rethla, if you watch the onboard footage from Verstappen’s car, Bottas doesn’t slow down erratically at all – in fact, I would argue that he actually drove quite safely.

      If you look at the onboard footage, Bottas isn’t braking suddenly or braking erratically in any way – if you look at what he is doing, he is simply allowing the gap to build by not accelerating as hard out of the corner as those in front of him, not by trying to slam the brakes on or slowing suddenly. Most neutral observers would be hard pressed to find any justification to call his driving dangerous or erratic, because there is nothing erratic about what Bottas was doing.

  4. Panagiotis Papatheodorou (@panagiotism-papatheodorou)
    30th May 2019, 11:33

    I think this should be forbidden.

    1. Yes, in future when they have to drive through a massive debris field left by a driver who has thrown his toys out of the pram they should be told to maintain speed.

  5. Slowing the field to gain an advantage during a safety car period should not be allowed. And why did verstappen only get a 5 second penalty when there is precedent with harsher penalties like a 10 second stop go for the same incident where no contact was made? What a terrible f1 race it was, the winner claiming he had the worst tyre problems in 10 years, and can still go faster than other cars in midfield, just like last year, the winner driving with 160hp less than others and having no trouble or need to defend. This track is past its use by date, it would be better to use it like a rally, give each driver 10 laps each on used soft set of tyres and no Drs or kers, and see who has the best result.

    1. This track is past its use by date

      I agree that the 2019 race showed that Monaco is no longer fit to host a full GP.
      I’m sure Liberty can implement something else to create an exciting event without ruining 1 full race.

      1. SparkyAMG (@)
        30th May 2019, 14:20

        I’d support Monaco being run to a different set of rules. It’s still a decent race track for some of the support categories but for F1 cars it’s generally only good for creating a spectacle during qualifying.

        Thinking outside the box; how about something along the lines of a Wimbledon style tournament? Perhaps Qualifying could still exist to establish where each car is seeded, and then cars face off 2 vs 2 on Sunday for a series of short sprint races (10 laps), starting half a lap apart, with the fastest average lap time determining who progresses through to the next round. Ultimately the final could be between the fastest 2-4 cars.

        1. SparkyAMG (@)
          30th May 2019, 14:24

          5 lap sprints would work better – and keep the whole thing within the 2 hour time limit.

    2. About the punishment for VER: Monaco is treated different with these punishment because a 5 or 10 second stop and go means you never can come back to the front of the race. On all other circuits the faster cars can come back from 10th or 15th place and fight at the front of the race again. But in Monaco you can’t pass so your effectively out of the race after a 10 seconds stop and go. That’s why these 5 or 10 second time penalties seem to be non consistent with other races, but they still can cost you 3 or more positions at the end.

    3. There has been 5-second-penalties for unsafe releases earlier too: for example Wehrlein in Monaco 2017 and Bottas in Abu Dhabi 2015.

  6. “Slowing the field to gain an advantage during a safety car period should not be allowed”

    Why? It increases safety, and once the cars form up behind the safety car, all the gaps vanish. It gives a very slight advantage to cars who are leading their rivals, but not nearly enough to even out the disadvantages they suffer when the SC comes out.

    Absent the safety car, Merc would have had no need to double stack. There would have been some chance of the undercut, but more likely it would have worked in Merc’s favour.

  7. What extremely precise driving by Hamilton 😉

    1. Crew mistake. The wheel gun shouldn’t have been anywhere near where Hamilton inadvertently hit it.

      1. F1oSaurus (@)
        1st June 2019, 10:40

        @greenflag Exactly. Not sure why they mention Hamilton clipping the gun, as if it’s something he could be held responsible for.

    2. Adub Smallblock
      30th May 2019, 14:22

      Gun man’s job to put the gun down in the correct place. Driver cannot see the gun on the ground.

  8. I’m assuming that Bottas didn’t get a penalty because even tho he was 4 seconds behind, he didn’t fall more than 10 car lengths behind due to the lower speeds under the safety car?

    1. 7.4 sec to be exact …. can be considered quite a lot at Monaco

  9. No one had picked up the safety car. The safety car was waiting on the next lap.

  10. I was under the impression that backing the field up under a SC wasn’t allowed & I recall several times in the past where drivers have received a penalty for doing so.

    1. F1oSaurus (@)
      1st June 2019, 10:50

      @stefmeister Once they are behind the safety car they need to stay within 10 car lengths.

      But indeed other drivers did get penalties for the same as Bottas did. So there is some inconsistency as it’s a bit of a gap in the rules.

  11. I could be wrong, but the 10 car length rule applies when behind the safety car. When catching up to the safety car, the field has to drive to a delta RANGE. Since they hadn’t caught up to the safety car yet, Lewis drives at the fast end of the delta range, Bottas drives at the slow end of the delta range. Therefore a gap opens up, no one is violating the rules, but they are using the rules to their benefit (which all teams would do in that situation).

  12. robinsonf1 (@)
    30th May 2019, 16:04

    Lets do the maths… pit lane speed limit is 80kph (no?). That equates to 22.2 meters per second. They say Bottas was 4 seconds behind. To create a gap of 4 seconds at the pit lane speed limit would mean a gap of 88meters. The length of a Mercedes F1 car is 5 meters. 88/5 = 17.6 car lengths.

    17.6 is larger than the permitted 10 car lengths under safety car. So, unless I’ve made a mistake somewhere, Bottas should have been given a penalty?!?!

    I’ve tried finding the footage to measure the gap but unfortunately can’t.

    1. The gap was much more than 4 sec, nearly double…
      The lap before it was 1.1 sec, the lap they pitted it was 8.4 sec

      To my opinion Mercedes was quite smart…but if it’s fair to other drivers who got held up ~7.5 sec I really doubt that, Bottos drover slow for good reason…safety wasn;t one of them

    2. F1oSaurus (@)
      1st June 2019, 10:51

      @robinsonf1 They weren’t lined up behind the safety car yet.

  13. Exactly! It’s amazing, from the comments, how many people didn’t watch the race but can comment on the situation, obviously driven by bias.

    VB did nothing wrong by driving to a delta before the safety car pick up. The others were probably going faster to create an opportunity during the pit stops. @riptide

  14. At least the team have come out and admitted gamesmanship.

    People on here have been arguing that this is what they did and got slapped down, but if the team admit it, it definitely was a deliberate tactic.

    If he hadn’t of done it, he’d have been stacked behind Hamilton and likely jumped by Vettel and Verstappen… wheel gun or not.

    I’m gonna put my faith in race control that Bottas was within delta times throughout and was therefore allowed to hold up the opposition as much as he did.
    As long as race control haven’t been taking any tips from F2, then we’re all good.

  15. For those speculating about the lack of punishment for Bottas…

    As has been pointed out on this site already, the stewards mustn’t have deemed Valtteri’s driving to be “unnecessarily” slow and thus didn’t break any safety car rules.

    Doesn’t require much effort to do a simple google of the sporting regulations (article 39.5, if you were wondering).

    1. Also, as 39.7 indicates, the 10-car rule applies once a driver has formed up behind the safety car (in the case, the safety car would have been somewhere around Casino. Hamilton ended up catching the safety car at the Loews hairpin).

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