Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2019

Mercedes’ strategy prediction was “way off” – Bottas

2019 British Grand Prix

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Valtteri Bottas says he had the pace to win the British Grand Prix if he hadn’t been stuck on a two-stop strategy.

The Mercedes driver said the team had discounted the possibility of running a one-stop strategy, believing it would be too slow. But Lewis Hamilton successfully switched to a one-stop strategy during a Safety Car period, while Bottas was locked into pitting twice because he used the same tyre compounds for his first two stints.

“Approaching the race we had no concerns on the flexibility because we thought one-stop would be a lot slower than a two-stop,” Bottas explained. “That’s why our theoretical quickest way to the flag was medium/medium/hard.

“But that was obviously way off. It was medium/hard.”

Bottas said he only pitted for a third set of tyres at the end of the race because the rules require drivers to use two different tyre compounds during the race. He said Mercedes’ simulations indicated there was “not much difference” between the original strategies intended for the two drivers. “But it obviously proved out Lewis in the end was on the best strategy.”

Hamilton’s strategy meant he ran on the hard tyre before Bottas, which turned out to suit the track better than expected.

“Coming to the event we all have one set of the hards and that’s all based on all the analysis from the weekends before [and] winter testing that it would be not the ideal tyre to be on,” said Bottas. “But it turned out to be different on the new Tarmac.

“Even though I lost the lead through the Safety Car I still would have had to stop again and Lewis was at that point on the hard tyre, he could carry on still. It was kind of double unlucky for me today.”

However Bottas is convinced he was quick enough to beat Hamilton on the same strategy. “The pace was good,” he said. “Obviously quickest [in qualifying] which is always nice.

“The race pace was there. We had some good battles on track with Lewis which I really enjoyed. Honestly I think with the pace I had I could have won today. It would have been a hard battle for sure towards the end of the race but that’s a positive.”

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36 comments on “Mercedes’ strategy prediction was “way off” – Bottas”

  1. As was Ferrari and Red Bull

    1. Bottas pitted before RB or Fer could force an early pitstop, that’s the overriding fact that mercedes can’t justify for Bottas.

      1. Did you see the state of Valtteri’s front left tyre before the first pit stop? Did you see the tyre after it came off the car – there was zero tread left on the left-front after just 16 laps? But Lewis was still running a strong pace – Bottas’ first flying lap on his new mediums wasn’t as quick as Hamilton was doing on 17-lap old mediums

        How did Lewis manage his tyres better than Valtteri when sat in Valtterri’s dirty air? How was Lewis able to do a better lap time on 32-lap old hard tyres than Valtteri could manage on fresh softs?

        Hamilton was in devastating race form and was always going to win.

        1. @gnosticbrain – This article speaks to some of your questions.

        2. Did you see the state of Valtteri’s front left tyre before the first pit stop? Did you see the tyre after it came off the car – there was zero tread left on the left-front after just 16 laps? But Lewis was still running a strong pace – Bottas’ first flying lap on his new mediums wasn’t as quick as Hamilton was doing on 17-lap old mediums

          How did Lewis manage his tyres better than Valtteri when sat in Valtterri’s dirty air? How was Lewis able to do a better lap time on 32-lap old hard tyres than Valtteri could manage on fresh softs?

          Hamilton was in devastating race form and was always going to win.

          Well said. People like @peartree are always going to look at the sport one dimensionally when it suit’s the narrative in their head.

          1. try to keep your reactions to the point and to the race. Its quite annoying you make things personally every time.
            There are people with different opinions out there!

          2. F1oSaurus (@)
            16th July 2019, 21:40

            erikje, But it’s good to call people out for posting nonsense/opinions as fact.

            First of all he’s plain wrong, since Verstappen, Leclerc and Gasly all DID pit before Bottas did. Just like Bottas they all went for the faster 2-stop strategy.

            Second, there was an utterly clear reason why Bottas stopped when he did seeing how his left front tyre was ruined. As opposed to peartree’s conspiracy opinion that it was just a random thing that Mercedes forced onto Bottas to help Hamilton.

  2. Bottas is trying to convince himself here with the thought that getting pole by a few thousands showed his pace yet in the practice race simulations Hamilton was immensely fast.

    I am beginning to think that Bottas’ problem is not facing reality, talking himself up, while he should be pitilessly analysing his weaknesses and then working to fix them. If he thinks every time he doesn’t win it’s bad luck rather than his performance he’ll never make it.

    He was unlucky in the strategy which ensured that , safety car or not, his team mate’s switch to a one stop was decisive. But he burned his tyres in the first stint more than Hamilton did, yet as
    Hamilton was following him very closely ineed, it should have been him with knackered tyres.

    Perhaps Bottas should wonder about that and why Hamilton can beat him to fastest lap on geriatric rubber while he was on brand new ones which were theoretically inherently faster.

    1. To be fair they were not brand new softs. However they should still have been faster than a very used set of hards.

    2. Come on, BOT is not champ material. Still doesn’t exclude the fact that Mercedes did not try to offer him the chance to fight HAM, to keep 1st and only then see if he can win or not. What we know for sure is that in the 1st stint, worse tyres or not compared to HAM, he managed to keep HAM behind, so he could have tried (at least) to continue that way for the rest of the race. With that strategy tho, it looked more like he tried to cover LEC and VER, not trying to take the win. More than sure this would have been labeled as just another screw up if it was Ferrari and basically any driver in the position of VET team mate. Yet, now the problem suddenly is driver – BOT.

      1. joe pineapples
        16th July 2019, 10:26

        Yet, now the problem suddenly is driver – BOT

        Thought I read somewhere that this was his decision to two stop,

        1. Yes, he said that. It was him and his side of the garage. Hamilton’s side also chose a two stop, but offset. It was Hamilton who then took the decision to make it a one during the race.

          1. Yes, Hamilton realised his tyres were in better condition than they had anticipated and so changed to a one stop.

          2. In fact they still tried to call Hamilton in for a second stop but he refused.

      2. @mg1982 – I thought the same, that Bottas screwed up by not going M-H. That would have given him the option of going M-H-S / M-H-M or trying the one-stop strategy. But, at least according to this article, it seems like it was more that Hamilton made a killer strategy call more than Bottas messed up.

        Apparently Merc got it wrong and that didn’t help. But it seems Hamilton still looked for other options even with the same Merc-supplied data that Bottas had. If that is an accurate article, it just shows that Hamilton and Bottas are not operating on the same level. I’m no Hamilton acolyte, but he is really making it hard for those who hate him to come with any actual facts to downplay his might.

  3. If the best simulated strategy was Med / Med / Hard, why not switch them a bit around to offer better flexibility. Just put the Hard tyre in the middle and see how it goes, maybe there is no need for the 2nd stop.

    RedBull was even worse, as they had Gasly on the Hard tyre with quite some laps before Max pitted, they surely could see the times were good and the tyre lasted well.

    1. @gechichan – One would assume that the driver does have some input on tire order and that Bottas chose the one he ended up with. Granted, he may have done so with bad data (Merc data saying two-stop, may have also indicated that Med-Med-something was the best route), but I would think that the lead driver would get first pick. Could be wrong though.

  4. If accurate, this would suggest that Bottas might have struggled to match Hamilton’s race pace in any event:
    But the team was still wedded to the idea of a two. It didn’t want to risk a one when there was no apparent need to. With Verstappen – the only one who might have been able to put pressure on them – having spent a whole stint failing to get past the slower car of Leclerc, they comfortably had the pace to do the no-risk two-stop. On Friday they’d noted that Leclerc had taken his front left right down to the canvas. It had been about to burst. That was the sort of disaster they believed they were courting if they attempted to one-stop. There was no need. They were even more convinced of this when they inspected the tyres that had just come off Bottas’ car: there was zero tread left on the left-front after just 16 laps.

    And yet… here was Hamilton still running a really strong pace. As had been agreed in the morning meeting, as the second car, if his tyres felt up to it, he could run longer and aim to get as much of a tyre offset as possible into the subsequent stints. In fact, Bottas’ first flying lap on his new mediums wasn’t quite as quick as Hamilton was doing on his now 17-lap old mediums….

    1. @nigel – I liked to the same article as well. It was a really good article and I agree. Assuming it is an accurate account, Hamilton not only had it in the bag with or without safety car, but it was all because he was unwilling to just accept the team’s data without question. He won that on his own and reading that account makes it actually impressive rather than disappointing to me.

      (Disappointing that the safety car came out when it did.)

      1. *linked, not liked*

        Though I did like it as well.

  5. Driving in circles
    16th July 2019, 12:22

    The bigger question is why didn’t Mercedes pit him during the safety car

    1. The Skeptic (@)
      16th July 2019, 13:06


      1) Bottas had only just putted for his medium tyres 3 laps prior
      2) Mercedes were still convinced that they would need another stop before the end of the race even if they switched him to hards.

  6. Considering HAM’s pace on the hards, he would likely have won the race on the one-stopper, regardless of the safety car. With BOT committing to the two-stopper, I even suspect a one-stopping VER would have taken P2 as BOT would not have passed him on track after the latter’s second stop…

  7. So many anons posting this weekend…
    Bottas you acknowledge you were done over by your team, so, if you stay put, don’t complain, it’s your own fault.

    1. F1oSaurus (@)
      16th July 2019, 21:52

      @peartree Nope, Bottas is desperately trying to convince himself that it’s not his own fault that he got so comprehensively crushed.

      Reality is that he lost because he was too slow on long run pace. He set up his car to perform best in Q3 and that gave him pole, but made him slow during the race. Normally that wouldn’t have mattered so much since overtaking is impossible anyway, but Bottas made the additional mistake to opt for the 2-stop strategy and he then couldn’t make it work because he was too slow and destroying his tyres due to the poor handling of his setup.

      Hamilton was almost fast enough to pass Bottas on the same tyre in the first stint. Imagine Hamilton on Medium and Bottas on hard tyres and it should be clear Hamilton would have gotten past anyway.

      Seeing how Hamilton was faster on worn old tyres than Bottas on newish soft tyres is even more evidence that Hamilton would have crushed Bottas no matter what.

  8. Well, it’s precisely what the tyre brief was supposed to do: leave the choice between very different tyre strategies marginal. Though admittedly only helped (kept out of reach of data crunching computers and the race strategists) by the unpredictability of the new asphalt and the lack of data on the hard tyre.

    Also: excellent race strategy by Hamilton and his side of the team. Had that been someone like Alonso, he’d have got the credit. But being Lewis, it’s ‘lucked in’ as usual.

  9. This is unfortunately becoming an all too familiar line from Bottas now in his efforts every week to justify his spot at the team. Hamilton looked throughout the entire race like he had at least half a second pace advantage per lap and was simply biding his time to pass Bottas. It’s not really going to help him beat Hamilton if he spends every week trying his hardest to convince himself he could have won.

    He needs to actually be sitting down with his engineers and crunching the data to see why Hamilton is able to lay down quicker laps consistently while managing tyre life better. At the moment he’s sounding like he’s doing enough to beat Hamilton but just not getting the luck but ultimately you have to make your own good fortune and so far, as soon as something goes wrong, he goes backwards. I’m not a F1 driver but even I could figure out the best move in a race where you have to run 2 compounds was to have put the hard tyre on for the middle phase so you would have more options later in the race, especially at a race where the safety car is always a fair possibility due to the chances of beaching in gravel.

    I personally have seen enough of Bottas in that car and don’t think he’s a future talent worth keeping around now so Mercedes should look at giving that seat to Russell or Ocon. Hamilton is not going to be around for ever so it’s time to start thinking about the future lead driver.

    1. Completely agree Gavin. I like Bottas but the fact is he just isn’t championship material. A championship winning driver knows that he has to gamble at the first pitstop to put the hards on (like Hamilton did)

  10. F1oSaurus (@)
    16th July 2019, 17:01

    In fact only a few drivers went for the one stop strategy and that worked mostly because of the safety car.

    Bottas really needs to get with the program and set up his car to also have good pace in the race.

    1. Yep. I don’t believe that you can always make your own luck but sometimes you can and that’s exactly what Hamilton did today and is so good at these days.

  11. It’s possible BOT would have won on the same strategy. If not for the safety car, HAM would have come out around one second behind him after the first stop and BOT maybe could have held him off but it wouldn’t have been easy.

    It was clear on the first stint that HAM had much more pace and on the second, BOT never even got close, despite being on a faster tyre.

    Yes, he was unlucky with the safety car but he should probably look closely at why HAM comfortably had more race pace. He needs to acknowledge that it wasn’t just strategy where he was weaker.

  12. BOT seems to have gone for a qualifying setup which is possibly harder on the tyres. In any case, he didn’t have the race pace as he couldn’t match HAMs pace on 32 lap old Hard tyres even when he had almost new Softs. If he continues to go for qualifying setups he isn’t likely to match Hamilton, apart from at the odd track like Monaco where overtaking is very difficult.

    1. I think it could also be that with Hamilton all over him at the beginning, Bottas was working those fronts like mad, braking really hard, trailing in on the brakes, to avoid a surprise attack from Hamilton. Oddly, driving in turbulence didn’t seem to affect Hamilton’s tires nearly as much.

      Also, even if he was committed to two-stop, he should have done hards at his stop to force Hamilton to make a choice himself and create uncertainty, or make Hamilton go for overcut-or-bust rather than eking out his tires for a one-stop.

  13. Even assuming the simulations supported a two-stop, why not go hard in the second stop to give yourself the option to one-stop? I would imagine that M/H/M is just as fast as M/M/H, but the latter locks you into to two stops. Maybe this is just another case of “computer says, no”—just following what’s on the screen no matter what.

    1. F1oSaurus (@)
      16th July 2019, 21:57

      @dmw It actually makes perfect sense when considering 2-stop options, because the medium tyre is faster and you want to run it as long as possible, but not so long that it goes over the cliff.

      So you run the second stint on medium and then see how far you get on that set. If it’s enough laps, then softs might be possible at the end. If the mediums wear out too quickly, going to hard is the best option.

  14. Every time that Hamilton has been in front of Bottas, he has managed to put big gaps between himself and his teammate. Bottas’ excuse? It’s too difficult to follow in dirty air like in Spain, China, Bahrain, France, etc.

    Every time Bottas has been in front like in Baku, Britain, etc. (except in Australia with Hamilton’s damaged floor), he has easily been in DRS range for the entire race.

    Every time that Bottas has lost the lead from pole, he has blamed his clutch.

    Just stating facts.

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