Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Paul Ricard, 2019

Tyre management is “second weakness” Bottas must address – Wolff

2019 French Grand Prix

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Valtteri Bottas needs to improve his tyre management in the same way he has improved his qualifying performance, according to Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff.

Bottas has taken three pole positions so far this season but his race pace has been weaker than Hamilton’s in recent events. He finished almost 19 seconds behind his team mate in France, where he also had a misfire near the end of the race.

“Valtteri has shown great pace on a single lap,” said Wolff. “I think he’s ramped up his game tremendously over last season to this season.

“Now the second weakness he needs to attack is the tyre management. He’s very aware of that, where he needs to improve.

“There are tracks where he’s as strong as Lewis or has been stronger when it’s not rear-limited or slip-limited and on the tracks where that is more a factor he just needs to change the driving style. And that is not trivial for a racing driver but he has all the abilities to do that.”

Both Mercedes drivers encountered problems with their tyres during the race. “We were suffering with some front tyres blistering in the last stint,” said Bottas, “so we were a little bit concerned and just wanted to be on the safe side so we would definitely make it to the end without any failure on the front tyre.

“So had take care a lot of the fronts in many of the corners and maybe being a lot on the conservative side, losing some big chunks of time, just by managing and being on the safe side. And in the end, that’s why it became a bit close with Charles [Leclerc], closer than we wanted. After the VSC we struggled a bit to restart the tyres and lost some temperature.”

However Wolff does not believe Hamilton’s emphatic win last weekend shows he has ‘broken’ his team mate. “I hope not and we will so everything in order to make sure that Valtteri is in a good place,” he said.

“I think he knows this we will absolutely make sure and we’re trying to give both of them equal material, equal opportunity. With a decent start in some of the last races he could have won two of them and he knows that. So I’m optimistic that Valtteri just needs one good weekend in order to come close again to Lewis and not let him run away with the championship.”

Bottas now trails Hamilton by 36 points in the title fight.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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24 comments on “Tyre management is “second weakness” Bottas must address – Wolff”

  1. Hm, ‘weaker … in recent events’ – sure, but those stretch back just about to the start of them being teammates; so that’s not quite so straightforward to do then.

    1. Agreed, @bosyber

      Also, doesn’t he have a problem with not being comfortable with a heavy (fuelled) car, but once it has burnt off the fuel midway or so, he gets much better at his pace?

      1. Maybe that’s the third weakness which Toto will mention once he completes the current mission objective – it’s all a game, right @phylyp?

        1. @bosyber LOL :)
          “Ah, there you are, Bottas, here’s your next carrot/stick”

  2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    25th June 2019, 7:29

    I agree this is a weakness for Bottas. When tyre management wasn’t as much of an issue like back in his Williams days, he seemed to be able to get more out of it. So on race day, if the tyres lasted better than they do now, I think he would manage to be closer to Hamilton. As in still quite a way off at some races, but without that sudden drop of near the end which has happened several times at mercedes.

    I used to think that he looked after his tyres well at Williams. But I just think they behave so differently now. In Canada 2016 for example, he made his strategy work to get a podium over Red Bull.

  3. Bottas’ biggest weakness has always been, and will always be, partnering Lewis Hamilton at the top of his game.

    You’d have to get a time machine and bring someone like prime Schumacher, Mansell, Prost or Senna back to really give him a full season-long fight… I’m a big Nando fan, but I don’t think even he would be able to hold himself together for the whole year at the same level Lewis is at right now.

    1. Nando? Really? He is the most undeserving double champion ever. He was lucky enough to be the fast young talent just when F1 had no great drivers, and never did well again after a bunch of real talent arrived. His hype machine is impressive, but when you consider that he insisted on having a significantly faster car than his teammate at all times, his relative performances are very average indeed. He was a pay driver at McLaren the second time, and then couldn’t but a seat anywhere at all because he’s so poisonous and racist.

      1. Wow. Can’t disagree more.

    2. Well let Mercedes talk with rbr and buy Max’s contract. At least Lewis has to work then.

      1. NeverElectric
        26th June 2019, 0:39

        What for? Mercedes are winning the title at a canter as-is, they have a happy Lewis and a compliant Bottas, add that to a winning car and that combination is enough to deliver titles in 2019, 2020, and likely 2021.
        Why change a formula that is working?

  4. Electroball76
    25th June 2019, 11:31

    Always remember the third rule in a crisis situation

  5. Both Hamilton and Bottas had tyre blistering issue, why he’s not blaming or admit the race car suspension setup flaw, but instead pointing responsibility to Bottas? Remember this year Pirelli’s thinner gauge tires supposed to be friendlier to Mercedes, but both of their cars showing blistering…

    1. Because Hamilton managed it 19 seconds better. What’s so hard to understand when the numbers are black and white.

    2. The car got pole and won the race by a mile, I’d say they got the best out of the tyre

      1. It seems to me Hamilton’s extraordinary adaptability has masqueraded the car’s inherent issue. If the competition is tight, they will start blaming the car’s tyre management then.

        1. Hamilton is obviously getting the best out of it, but the car is still good enough for Bottas to be comfortably second by a large margin. Replace Hamilton with a driver not as good as Bottas and he would be dominating the season as well.

          It’s cruel to its front tyres maybe, but it’s clearly doing so by extracting the most out of them.

          1. It’s not like last season where Bottas languished in the championship and Hamilton made the difference, Mercedes knocked it out of the park this year.

    3. Hamilton almost got the fastest lap on his tyres while Bottas struggling to keep ahead of Leclerc.

  6. Just put Alonso in the second car, where’s Toto’s sense of fun.

  7. I don’t think it’s been emphasized enough the effect of the Canada appeal on Hamilton (and Mercedes). It looks to me that the threat to remove his victory, as well as the fan and media hostility, kick-started Hamilton’s ‘phase two’ of the season a few races early – usually it starts around Silverstone (home turf), Spa and Monza especially. As he said after the race, Hamilton clearly intended from the start to drive the hell out of the car to the end, not easing off and managing a safe distance. And that’s what he did, up until the last lap, when, had Mercedes been better tuned to what he was doing, he’d have set the fastest lap too. He was making a definitive statement to Vettel, Ferrari, spectators, the media, and, almost incidentally, to Bottas.

    1. @david-br yep. They poked the dragon and now it’s gonna be Kings Landing all over again.

      Lewis was viciously competitive this weekend, not seen him that fired up in a while.

      1. RB13 :o) Like the reference.

        1. It was Great, Still laughing.

          1. Gone but not forgotten gents! ;)

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