Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Monza, 2019

Bottas had “fastest car” at Monza but must work on racecraft – Wolff

2019 Italian Grand Prix

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff believes Valtteri Bottas had the speed to win the Italian Grand Prix but says he needs to improve his pace when running close to other cars.

Bottas got ahead of team mate Lewis Hamilton in the second stint and closed on Leclerc in the final laps of the race. But he ran wide twice, at the Rettifilio and Roggia chicanes, and finished second to the Ferrari driver.

“It looks like he struggles a little bit when he gets in the wake of the car to extract the maximum,” said Wolff. “Lewis in that position is able to somehow get closer and put himself in a position to go for a move.

“It’s something he’s got to work on but on the positive side his racing was great today. He was really fast. Probably in pure race time the fastest car.”

Bottas said he wasn’t able to pass Leclerc because his tyres were worn by the time he caught the Ferrari.

“For sure at the beginning of the last stint I had five and a bit seconds to catch up so it means you can’t be cruising around to close the gap. So for sure, ideally would have done more tyre management, but if I wanted a shot to win the race I had to push also to catch them and that was with a cost of some tyre drop-off.

“I felt the last four laps I started to have a bit of trouble with the medium tyre. That made it more tricky and always when I got close enough I was definitely having some front locking under braking. I think Lewis had similar issues as well, he went straight once when I got him, actually.

“From our calculations to actually have proper chance of overtaking you need one second pace difference and I had maximum five tenths by the time I got close to Charles so obviously tricky. I tried everything I could but just a bit out of reach today.”

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78 comments on “Bottas had “fastest car” at Monza but must work on racecraft – Wolff”

    1. That was an incredible drive by Hamilton there. His car was shaking like crazy behind the Ferrari but somehow he was still able to stick on Leclerc’s rear for half the race. It’s actually pretty impressive that Lewis didn’t lock up under braking for as long as he did. I think Bottas’ comments show how hard it was to drive the way Lewis did for the race.

      A victory is a victory but Hamilton has been magisterial at both Spa and Monza – Leclerc’s a star, no doubt, but Hamilton’s still burning like the sun out there. Just like Nadal showed us yesterday, these guys defy age and logic.

      1. @freelittlebirds I think age is proving to have fewer drawbacks in many sports in the last 5 years or so. in cycling, alejandro valverde is 39, still at the very top of the tree. in rugby, rory best is 37 and will captain ireland at the world cup this year. in tennis federer and nadal are still pretty much the best. hamilton is 34, so not that old, but not young by any stretch. raikkonen is 39 and still driving ok (he was very competitive towards the end of last year too). i’m sure there are many other examples in many other sports.

        why is this so? perhaps fitness levels are easier to attain in older athletes (than they were at the beginning of this century, for instance). therefore, the greater experience older athletes have is becoming the determinant of competitiveness.

        1. Have to include Tom Brady, greatest NFL QB of all time just recently won another super bowl at 41. V Rossi. Struggling a little this year but was in contention for 2 wins at the end of last year at age 39 . Daniel Cormier UFC fighter is late 30’s I believe.

      2. That was an incredible drive by Hamilton there. His car was shaking like crazy behind the Ferrari but somehow he was still able to stick on Leclerc’s rear for half the race.

        And in doing so ruined his tyres and lost a position to his team mate.

        1. tactically maybe not the best option.
          But I loved how much he gave, desperately, but not giving up.
          Certainly not a Hamilton fan, but I loved his fighting spirit yesterday. Hamilton made the race worthy, against the quicker Ferrari..

        2. @geemac it was inconsequential – Lewis wanted to win the race. He didn’t care about P2 vs P3. Lewis was gunning for a huge upset. Without the assistance of the Renault duo in the early stint after Leclerc pitted, I think Lewis would have passed Leclerc and probably broken DRS. Good for Leclerc and the Scuderia though- the tifosi needed this victory.

          1. Judging by the snippets of team radio played on air, it seems that pushing regardless of tyre life was what Merc wanted, most likely for effect.

            Unless the tyres failed totally, the worst outcome was going to be to fall back to 3rd – doesn’t seem an unreasonable gamble from here. By the end though, without tyre life left, it shouldn’t have been hard for leclerc to pass him back – not even a moral victory in that one :)

      3. And the thing is Hamilton did not have to make a race of it. He could have driven simply to stay ahead of Bottas. Its to Hamilton’s credit that he drove the way he did, adding excitment to a one sided race.

    2. Lewis gets a little leeway..
      Winning races and championships will do that

  1. To be honest, this is something I have noticed. Some drivers, such as Hamilton, Verstappen, and previously Alonso, tend to struggle less in the dirty air compared to other drivers. I wonder if it’s just their driving techniques allowing them to live with the understeer more than drivers with traditional driving styles like Bottas, Rosberg etc.

    1. I think its down to greater natural ability and being able to feel better what the car is doing underneath them and reacting to that.

    2. @mashiat I remember against Rosberg, Hamilton was usually “struggling” (ie not dominating so much) when they were on ultrasofts and then when they switched to the harder compound he would blast past.

      Or look at his driving in the rain. Barring the last Hockenheim race (and that was more a dumb strategy error from Mercedes) he has always been magnificent in the wet as well. With low grip, the talent seems to be more noticeable.

    3. I’ve noticed the same thing too.

      It seems that the top few drivers actually can follow a car closely – maybe all they needed to do for 2021 was ensure drivers skills improved rather than constantly drone on about DRS and cars not being able to follow each other.

      Yeah – I know DRS is evil and must be exorcised for the benefit of civilisation and aero is the demon that has destroyed F1 etc etc but really – is it the cars and their design or is it the fact that we don’t have enough drivers with the skills to race.

      I’ll take my tongue out of my cheek now :)

    4. I think it is just down to the will and want of being first and never second. Some drivers are more happy to finish an easy or guaranteed second whereas champions (past or future) never settle for less than they think they can achieve. And they are willing to use all tools they can think of to achieve that. And doing so they are willing to take more risks and put the other driver into position where he has to back down or have an incident. This is what I call the killer instinct. “I’d rather crash us both out than let you by”. Hamilton has it, verstappen has it, schumi had it, senna had it, prost had it. Berger did not, bottas did not and coulthard did not. Maldonado had it too but he was not cold and calculated. He was just erratic and lacked the big picture.

      Leclerc for example was determined to not let lewis past. He was willing to rather take a penalty than let hamilton take advantage of the situation. Hamilton similarly did not let go. Both wanted it and in the end it they basically touched because neither was willing to give an inch. Bottas on the other hand was more happy to take the second and just finish safe ahead of lewis just once. Bottas was driving a lot more from self preservation standpoint that simply willing to try everything to win. Especially considering his crash out of hockenheim was surely still in his memory.

  2. “For sure” – Bottas loves that phrase.

    1. @phylyp I think it must be F1 Paddockglish! Lots of drivers use it but I hardly ever hear it anywhere else. Massa used it a lot and I presumed it was a translation of Portuguese com certeza, but afterwards I noticed drivers of other nationalities use it too, almost everyone highly fluent in English. Seems part of Formula 1 culture.

      1. @david-br – you are correct! I noticed it with Bottas, but it turns out that:
        a) It is common with other drivers as well
        b) A quick Google search shows me that it has been noticed by others for far longer, as these threads show (thread 1 from 2014, thread 2 from 2017).

        The first link is hilarious as that person ran a championship between the drivers’ usage of the phrase, and reported on it appropriately (e.g. “Despite a dramatic challenge from Sebastian Vettel in the final session Pastor Maldonado wins the 2014 championship” and “Nico Rosberg gets an honorable mention for 3 “For Sure” in a single statement (Brazil).”

        1. georgeboole (@)
          9th September 2019, 13:28

          @phylyp I expect nothing less than any comment starting with the words “for sure” now on.
          For sure I have seen a video on youtube interviewing Rosberg and counting how many times he actually said it. But I can’t find it now

          1. I expect nothing less than any comment starting with the words “for sure” now on.

            @georgeboole – for sure, that’s a reasonable request.

            I think many videos/compilations of that kind get pulled due to copyright strikes from TV broadcasters :(

          1. @fullcoursecaution – for sure, that’s some incredibly good recall on your part!

            Also, @neilosjames – that’s a brilliant caption.

        2. Felipe Massa was the “for sure” master in the F1 paddock not long ago…

      2. Actually I deal with a few Swiss engineering companies, and I hear it a fair bit in phone conversations with them.

    2. And it rubs off on his teammate, @phylyp.
      See yesterday’s quotes by Hamiton: “They already made a change today that we have to finish the out lap within a certain delta time but even that’s still too slow. There’s improvements we can make, for sure, for safety but also for the spectators to watch.

      1. @coldfly – LOL, so even the Brits aren’t immune to this turn of phrase :)

  3. To be honest if Hamilton, on fresh tyres cruised up to Leclerc but couldn’t pass him I’m not sure why people think that Bottas, on by that point used tyres could do what he couldn’t. Like the guy took the majority of the life of his tyres out catching them – by the point he got to Leclerc his tyres were probably in no better shape than Hamilton’s.

    Sure you could argue Bottas threw away at least two good attempts – just as Hamilton didn’t get it done with more than that, but if ‘one of the best drivers on the grid’ couldn’t get it done with fresher rubber why people think Bottas, who arguably is about a tenth slower could confuses me. You’re being too hard on him.

    1. He was setting fastest laps on the wake of Leclerc. Of course his tyres were in better shape.

      He just started to miss his marks ALL over the place when got close.

    2. This is exactly what I think @rocketpanda

      When Hamilton pitted he also had the advantage of his tyres warming up quicker than the compound that leclerc was on. Plus, When Bottas was in the situation of running within DRS range, Leclerc had DRS too every time. And Bottas was on older tyres than Hamilton at this stage i mentioned. You could even add that Leclerc’s hard tyres will ave started to have the advantage near the end of the race compared to Hamilton and Bottas. If Hamilton couldn’t get by on brand new tyres, i don’t relaly know how anyone could expect Botats to get by when Leclerc had a tow. Bottas did indeed make mistakes, But hamilton wasn’t error free. And it was spending all this time behind Leclerc fighting this much that cost him 2nd.

      Think Bottas is getting judged a litle harshly. He got the better of his strategy than Hamilton this time.

      1. Hamilton could’ve made his strategy works if he just lift and coasted for second place. He didn’t.

        Bottas on the other hand, just like Spa, was just there.

        If you ask 10 people whose performance they deemed better, every single one will say Hamilton’s, because he actually tried something.

        1. Yea this is what I thought. Hamilton has lifted and coasted and had attempts on the driver ahead and kept backing off between them. Not sure why he didn’t do this. Bottas seems to be getting judged really harshly for failing to pass when Hamilton couldn’t even on newer tyers with an advantage over Leclerc. When Bottas got up to Leclerc, Leclers advantage of having harder tyres started to play in. Chandhok mentioned this on Sky. I feel too many people are against Bottas for this race. hamilton ended up worse, and it was trying that hard that resulted in him doing worse than Bottas. And Hamilton seems to be getting no blame at all by the majority. Despite not winning, Bottas made his strategy work better. He had the disadvantage of loosing time when leclerc and Hamilton pitted. He may have had an advantage in the end, but all in all, I’d say Bottas did do betetr than Hamilton. Neither could get by but i don’t think it looked possible really.

          1. @thegianthogweed

            Not sure why he didn’t do this.

            Seriously? Clearly Hamilton actually wanted to win. Besides, what did he have to lose? He took the gamble for the glory, challenge and an additional 7 points and the result of this not working resulted in him losing only 2 points to the only (distant) rival he really has for the title.

            Bottas desperately needed the points for that win and he barely seemed to try.

          2. I mean i’m not sure why he didn’t back off and then try again later. He has done this before rather than spend the whole time close up in DRS. It was pretty much this that led to him loosing 2nd. I know he wanted to win but he doesn’t normally drive this close for this long.

          3. If you agree Leclerc was going to have the better tyre towards the end of the race, then lifting and coasting would still allow a marginal wear on the tyres and he would still have found it harder to pass.
            The challenge was Ferrari’s top speed, and lifting and coasting and he’d be out of the window, which meant extra agression at the corners.

          4. Merc were egging him on keep Lelerc under pressure; to all appearances it was a chosen strategy.

            Realistically, the Ferrari was too fast to just overtake, Lewis needed something extra – like a mistake – to work with. Consistent pressure would maximise the chances there.

            Alternatively, by keeping the pressure on they were forcing leclerc to use up tyre life and expecting that would eventually lead to a more realistic chance of an overtake. Lewis used this strategy to good effect in some previous races this year (silverstone, for example) – this time though, Leclercs soft tyres held up better, and so did the hards.

          5. Hamilton getting blamed for what? If things were even remotely close in the championship between Bottas and Hamilton then Hamilton would’ve adjusted his strategy accordingly i.e. made sure he finished ahead of Bottas. The fact he was 65 points ahead of
            Bottas allowed him to go for the win and entertain us viewers. Bet he thought oh well, might as well let Bottas close the gap by 2 no real harm done. Even if Bottas had got the win Hami could still chill with a 56 point advantage.

    3. If Mercedes was serious about Hamilton taking the win from Ferrari they would have given him the extra race mode. They chose not to. On the other hand you have to wonder if they gave Bottas that extra mode along with his change of tires.

      Also it would have been interesting if Hamiton had pitted at the end of lap 42 when Bottas took the lead. He would then have had 10 laps on softs with the extra race mode, who knows what he might have done with that amount of time. Pitting with only 3 laps to go meant all he could hope for was that extra point for the fastest lap.

  4. Re-signs Bottas, immediately continues to point out the weak points in his driving. Sigh.

    1. @david-br – LOL. In any case, Bottas would breathe easier knowing that this is constructive feedback, and not a reason to kick him out.

      1. @phylyp Definitely breathing easier! But I tend towards @mashiat ‘s opinion, this is something some drivers can do, others not. Hamilton has made a habit of chasing down drivers this season, putting Vettel and Leclerc under pressure and forcing a mistake (that Leclerc got away with! another story). Same goes for Verstappen, especially last season’s version. But it seems an exceptional skill, one few possess and not one that would seem easy or even possible to learn.

    2. What, BOT confirmed for 2020?

      1. @mg1982 Yes, did you miss the announcement ahead of the Belgian GP, LOL?

        1. Sure I did. So, Mercedes is paving the way for HAM’s 7th title, uh?

          1. For sure @mg1982 :)
            In a sense it’s the same question as Gasly at Red Bull (compared to MV). The top teams need at least one driver who can chase for a win, and two drivers (both) who can cut through the field quickly if they get pushed down the grid to ensure the team maximizes points. But that’s effectively the same ‘skill set.’ And if the ‘second driver’ can make up places quickly – as Albon was at least attempting to do – then they’re also more likely to be a Leclerc, pushing the lead driver and generating team tensions. I thought Red Bull had a good balance until Ricciardo left. Leclerc meanwhile seems to have demoralized Vettel. Mercedes want Bottas to be better in some circumstances, when Hamilton is out of contention, but perhaps not always. A bit like finding the perfect porridge.

  5. @rocketpanda
    Posted this on a previous article:

    Lewis pitted before Charles and pretty much sat on his gear box until the mistake. Lewis had DRS for most of that battle which damaged his tyres more than Valtteri chasing behind in clean air. Only reason Valtteri caught up was cos of the battle ahead of him. Wasnt like he was doing quali laps. Hardly got DRS when he was close and made too many mistakes in a few laps.

    You seem to also forget that Charles was over the limit with his defending and cutting corners just to keep Lewis behind, else it would have been a Merc win. Great drive from both Lewis and Charles, but for Valtteri.. very disappointed.

    He took too long to close the Gap on Charles and could barely get DRS. Ocon cant be any worse.

    1. Ocon can’t be any worse.

      Crashing into his teammate with zero points for the team.

    2. i wish i could see what people see in Ocon to want him in that seat so badly.
      His racecraft may be even worse than Bottas’s.

  6. People also used to say Vettel could drive fast in clear air but struggles with racecraft. Now they just say he struggles

  7. I was so frustrated with Bottas’ performance.
    Starting from the first corner leclerc boxed Hamilton and bottas got half his car ahead of Hamilton, how he lost it and Hamilton gained 2nd place back I do not know.
    And then when he was almost in striking distance to leclerc he over brakes for turn 1, and then when he gets close again later he runs wide at a corner… abysmal

    1. Why all this critisism? Hamilton with all the praise he gets ruines his tryes and fineshes 3rd. It was worth trying what he did, but in the end, he ruined a chance of getting at least 2nd. And you seem against Bottas rather than him? Hamilton could’t get by Leclerc even when on brand new softer tyres than Leclerc, even when leclerc had no tow, which he had every time (from lapped drivers) when Bottas was trying to overtake.

      I’d say both Hamilton and Bottas were ok. hamilton initiallly better but running this close for as long as he did basically triggered Bottas getting ahead, So I would say Bottas did do a little better than him overall. But don’t think either really had a chance to get by. That Ferrari was just too fast.

      1. @thegianthogweed
        I see you’ve been very busy spewing the same nonsesne about Valtteri being better than Lewis and how Lewis destroyed his tyres bla bla bla.

        One thing you seem to forget and not mention in all your posts and replies was that Lewis would have made a pass at least twice if not for Charles’ dirty driving. FIA turning a blind eye and having to introduce the ‘black n white’ flag for a Ferrari win. Albon was given a 5sec time pen for cutting the chicane last race for example, but no black n white flag.

        Valtteri on the other hand was just bad but please, continue the garbage towards Lewis.

        1. @lums

          I may have made a lot of comments, but I think you are being unreasonable.

          I don’t think Hamilton did bad, and I don’t think Botats was great either, but Hamilton trying as hard as he did was the cause of him loosing out to Bottas. The FIA are in charge of the penalties so Leclerc obviously got away with them. That wouldn’t have been a very skillful overtake by Hamilton anyway would it if it was only down to a mistake by Leclerc?

          I think both drivers had an equal chance of getting by, which was very slim anyway because of the speed of the ferrari. But I’d say hamilton had a slight advantage over what Bottas had at the end when he was on fresh tyres.

          Calling Bottas “just bad” for failing to get by when hamilton also failed and in the end finished behind Bottas is just ridiculous.

          1. RIght, but with the recent speeds of the Ferrari, Hamilton needed to cut the points lost to their cars to win the championship quicker. Hamilton can afford to finish 2nd to Bottas until the end of the season, and he can afford to finish third if Ferrari wins all the remaining races. But finishing ahead of his team mate and also Ferrari is an insurance against any bad spells in the future, so it was worth the risk.

          2. I can see that as a fair point OOliver. But in terms of who overall did better this race, My pint was that hamilton doing what he did resulted in getting a worse position when he could have kept it. As you say, it may not matter to him, but to me it makes it look like Bottas did a better job. Or you could say Hamilton gave him th position i suppose as he knew Bottas was catching them.

          3. @thegianthogweed
            reading back my comment, i want to apologise for coming across rude in the first part of my comment.

            After watching the whole race again, I’ll double down on my opinion that Valtteri was abysmal compared to Lewis. if Lewis had settled for 2nd and followed Charles home, Valtteri wont be in this conversation. Lewis wanted the win or nothing, knowing that 3rd will be the worst. So he gave it everything. what did Valtteri do behind Charles apart from getting in his own way.

            I’m glad im not the only person voicing out that he was terrible, compared to Lewis, even Toto agrees and he know more than us all.

          4. I can accept you going over what you said, but i’m not reading anywhere that toto thinks he is terrible. In your last statement, you are implying several people think he was terrible compared to Lewis and that Toto agrees. He mentioned that he tought the overtake was possible and that Bottas needs to improve, not that he was terrible. I don’t see how he even thinks this.

            We can certainly disagree but i don’t think either had a chance. Hamilton couldn’t when he had brand new tyres vs leclerc having to warm up a harde compound. When Bottas was behind Leclerc, Leclerc had a tow and Bottas was on older tyres than Hamilton earlier on. Hamilton could stick with him far better atmittedly, but in the end, I’m not sure I could say Hamilton did better, because sticking that close resulted in him losing. It may have been worth trying nd then loosing out to him, but just basing things on this race, Bottas finished ahead due to Hamilton giving it everything and failing.

  8. valteri shud hve caught up to lewis atleast sooner

  9. Bottas is such a dud. Let’s be honest as soon as we saw Lewis lock up this victory was a guaranteed thing. Had some friends at the track who basically went wild and started the party as soon as it happened because nobody bets on Bottas, and with good reason as he showed.

  10. He drove to the back of Leclerc twice and he made a mistake twice…….

  11. After races like Brazil ’17 and Bahrein ’18, did anyone expect Bottas to pull something different? He is not this kind of driver, that’s more than proved.

    His tyres probably weren’t in great shape, but he again just sat there and didn’t try anything. Made more mistakes in a couple of laps than Hamilton in 40+ laps. Amazing.

  12. It irks me when they say that Merc was the fastest car yesterday. LH had his DRS open twice every lap for 95% of the race, lest we forget LEC was on the hard tyre. Clearly Ferrari were faster. Same as Spielberg where people were saying VER was faster than LEC – no he wasn’t, just had the DRS assist.

    1. In clear air the Mercedes was faster then the Ferrari, otherwise neither would have caught Leclerc. However, the Ferrari’s sheer grunt was so much even the DRS on the Mercedes didn’t help them get much closer, so much so that it didn’t matter the Mercedes was better in the corners or under braking as it couldn’t get close enough to make use of them.

      1. lest we forget LEC was on the hard tyre

        You are forgetting the tyre delta, plus the DRS helped him stay there.

    2. Really? I didn’t know that Verstappen had the DRS when he was hunting down Leclerc from 6 seconds back.

      1. So where was the black and white flag when VER pushed LEC off track?

    3. If you are fast enough on the right bits and have track position, you’re on to win.
      Leclerc wasn’t faster but he had always good exits out of Parabolica and turn 2 and was faster on the straights than Hamilton with DRS open.

      He did push Hamilton out though, and even if they used the black and white flag as an excuse not to give him a penalty, why didn’t the same thing happened the day before with Sette Camara?

      The other way around is also true. Remember the 2010 race when Button chose to run with a draggy set up and S-Duct and only lost to Alonso on the pit stops. He was much quicker on cornering and when Alonso was catching him on the straights, it was time to brake again.

  13. I wish Bottas had been a little less conservative yesterday. He needed to test Leclerc like Lewis did a few times.

    I think that’s what left Toto and Bottas’ fans disappointed. We know he’s a nice guy, we know he’s a team player, we know he’s trying to change this year and be more aggressive. This was the time to do that. We didn’t think Bottas would even get a chance on Leclerc until Lewis flat spotted. It just seemed like the perfect opportunity for him to shine and show us Bottas 2.0. I can’t think of a better way to thank Mercedes and Toto for their belief in him and silence the critics. What a shame.

  14. As soon as Bottas got ahead of Lewis you kinda knew he was never going to seriously attack Leclerc.

  15. He’s right but also I felt Bottas was a bit slower on the straights than Ham or maybe Leclerc had more fuel when Bottas came at leclerc. Bottas got once to the main straight just .3 away.

  16. Is this comment a fair one? Lewis was at back of Lec with new tyres. Bottas had fresher tyres than Lewis and Lec, but reached Lec when his tyres were quite worn already.

    1. Bottas is scapegoat of Toto. He is not that audible when it comes to criticize other driver.

      1. Well, there wasn’t much to criticize. Lewis’ was unbelievable – so much pressure down the straight. Lewis was fighting for inches.

        1. Yes he was indeed so much so that at the end he finished distanced 3rd after his team mate passed him on track. Toto also loved that.

  17. If winning is not important then why keep score? :-)

    1. Winning the championship is Lewis’s aim. Giving up 2 points to Bottas out of 65 is a minor concern when you consider Lewis’s main objective.

  18. You are very right . That is the reason I don’t like his driving. Like this he can never be a champion or be a number 1 driver

  19. Surprised that so many are debating this on the apparent basis that Hamilton and Bottas are equal as drivers.
    Come on.

  20. It would help if you gave him free reign on the overtake/quali mode as you seem to allow HAM….Shockingly obvious watching 1 lap attack, 1 lap charge overtake button spam when it happens. Let Bottas play too.

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