Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Interlagos, 2019

Bottas didn’t understand decision to cut second stint short

2019 F1 season

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Valtteri Bottas admitted he was surprised Mercedes gave up on their attempt to get him through the race on a one-stop strategy.

Bottas made his first pit stop later than the other front-runners and switched to the hard tyres in an attempt to run to the end of the race.

“I aimed to be going long in the first stint and tried to save the tyres a bit,” he explained. “But still I think I was lacking a bit of pace in the first stint due to quite a bit of understeer, especially through the middle sector. So I was dropping back behind further away than ideal, so then I went onto the hard tyre.”

But Bottas began to drop back from the leaders early in his second stint. The team abandoned their attempt to get Bottas through the race with a single pit stop when Alexander Albon began to get close, and Bottas was back into the pits a second time before most of his rivals.

“I felt still that [a one-stop strategy] could be possible, but we stopped to cover Albon I think,” he said. “From my side I was a bit confused and I questioned the stop.”

His retirement later in the race left “a question mark if I could’ve made it to the end or not,” he said. “In theory not but I thought that would be the only chance really.”

Bottas was trying to pass Charles Leclerc when a power unit problem put him out.

“I think there was a bit of smoke. I didn’t actually see the smoke, but they reported it to me and I couldn’t feel any loss of power but it just switched off.”

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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...
Josh Holland
USA-based Josh joined the RaceFans team in 2018. Josh helps produce our Formula 1 race weekend coverage, assists with our social media activities and...

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11 comments on “Bottas didn’t understand decision to cut second stint short”

  1. That was a really ‘nothing’ race from bottas. not just the lack of pace – he dropped a long way back from vettel in the first stint and nearly a whole pitstop behind verstappen – but his lack of incisiveness against leclerc when they were battling. leclerc was defending quite well into turn 1, but he was leaving a ricciardo or hamilton sized gap down the inside. he just didn’t have the confidence to really go for it. the more laps he was stuck the less likely it looked like he would get by. i think VB has too many of these kinds of races – just not really showing up. perhaps there’s some inconsistency in his approach. it must be even more frustrating for him to be an absolute world-beater and then next weekend, really quite underwhelming.

    1. @frood19 That Leclerc hunt was just painful to watch. It was like Bottas just didn’t really want to commit to anything.

      I _hate_ it when over-eagerness like Hamilton’s leads to accidents, but I had a choice between those two? Bring on the crashes.

      1. @losd exactly! there are a few too many hot-heads on the grid at the moment but i wouldn’t class hamilton as one – despite his obvious faux pas with albon yesterday!

    2. I think people are being way to harsh on bottas here. Bottas himself said that early on, he was saving the tyres to go long and admitted he was stuggling a bit. Mercedes were known to struggle in thin air, and ferrari were known to be like a rocket on the straight. Surely it could be seen that bottas had no real chance to get by leclerc? leclerc just gained too much each time they were on the straight even if Bottas was well within DRS. Look back at rces like italy. Hamilton couldn’t get by Leclerc – bottas couldn’t get by leclerc. When ferrari have that straight line speed, they are next to impossible for mercedes to pass, even with a tyre advantage. Yet another example – Hamilton could not pass vettel at the end of Japan despite a huge advantage. If you are going to be against Bottas here, factor in all these other occations hamilton could not pass the same car at tracks where bottas managed to get better results than him. If it wasn’t for Hamilton having such a great start, i am certin he will have been stuck behind vettel.

      There was no reasn to pit bottas when he was on hards. You should also factor in that Bottas’s issues likely won’t have been helping at all. Given the number of times that Ferrari have looked super quick on the straights nd mercedes have not found a way by, i don’t get the critisism against Bottas here. It wasn’t a great race, certainly not, but his strategy was dreadful. If he had had a 1 stop, when he retired, hamilton will have likely been only just ahead, though will have pulled away again but the margin won’t have been quite as large. They were on totally different strategies so they can’t really be compared. I think Hamilton was clearly better, but i don’t think it was a poor race from Bottas given Mercedes were the weakest of the top 3 teams.

      1. @thegianthogweed Suzuka is difficult to overtake while there were plenty of overtakes in Brazil. Also from Hamilton and Verstappen on Ferrari. Ferrari did clearly lose some of that straight line speed.

        Besides, Bottas was 2.5 seconds faster than Leclerc. Hamilton had nowhere near such pace advantage.

        factor in all these other occations hamilton could not pass the same car at tracks where bottas managed to get better results than him

        So something that never actually happened? How much difference does that make really?

        If anything it’s the opposite anyway. The reason Hamilton “couldn’t get past Leclerc” at Monza was because he was fouled upon. Every time he actually did get past he would get illegally blocked.

        While all the times Bottas launched an attack on Leclerc at Monza … ah yes … that never happened.

  2. and yet he believes he’s on par with HAM and VER…sigh!

    1. Isn’t this a strategy failure? Both Hamilton and Verstappen are just as dependent upon good strategy decisions. Bottas isn’t in a position to see what’s happening around the track, someone else decided he was to use hard tyres.
      I must admit I believed at the time changing back to the medium tyres was a poor decision, and Valtteri seems to think it was too.
      I suspect his engine failure was somehow related to chasing Leclerc, so I think if he’d stayed on those tyres he may have been able to bring the car home with a points finish.

  3. Trying to remember the last time Valtteri actually didn’t blame the car for him being off the pace.

  4. Just imagine how different things could have turned out, if after smoking for half a lap, Mercedes had told Bottas to pit rather than leaving him to continue full tilt…

    No safety car would likely have played into Hamilton’s hands as he seemed to be stronger than Max at that point on the medium tyres.

    Always love a good “what if”.

    1. Bottas could not continue because as he said the car just switched off. If the car was still running he would have had to limp really slowly back to pits.

  5. Has there been any word from Mercedes if Bottas actually overheated the car by driving so closely behind Leclerc for so long?

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