Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2019

Wolff explains decision to start Bottas on used tyres

2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Toto Wolff justified Mercedes’ decision to have Valtteri Bottas set a time during Q2, which means he will have to start the race on old tyres instead of new rubber.

Bottas will start from the back of the grid after taking an engine penalty due to a failure in Brazil two weeks ago. The fact he set a time in Q2 means he will have to start the race on used tyres.

Wolff said the team “wanted to have [that], and it’s important also to give him the opportunity to put in his lap. Important for the head, and also for us in terms of benchmarking him. That was the reason.”

Bottas advanced to Q3 and fell shy of beating team mate, Lewis Hamilton, by two tenths of a second despite his fresher engine.

“The last lap was OK,” said Bottas. “I still felt like Lewis was a little bit too quick and I think we were slightly different with set-up as well by the end of the qualifying.

“Honestly I felt a bit more comfortable yesterday with the car overall. But obviously for me, everything I was trying to keep in my mind was for the race.”

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He said his strategy was based around putting himself in the best position for the race.

“For sure we’ve tried to make a plan and the whole weekend tried to optimise for the race because like I said, the qualifying result doesn’t really matter for me today. So everything we’ve done with the tyre choices and everything we’ve tried to optimise that.

“We’ve had many ideas for the strategy and obviously it’s going to be a challenge coming up from there. But I do look forward to it. I’m sure it can be fun trying to come up.”

Prior to the race weekend Bottas announced he was splitting from his wife Emilia. Today he revealed he is also recovering from an illness.

“I’m feeling better already than a couple of days ago,” said Bopttas. “I’ve been quite ill this week since I think Monday night [and] when I travelled here it got worse. But in the car, it doesn’t matter the adrenaline kicks in and you feel normal.”

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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
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  • 13 comments on “Wolff explains decision to start Bottas on used tyres”

    1. But they missed the opportunity to have one more F1.5 team on used soft tyres.
      And no option to start on hard tyres.

    2. I can’t remember if it was always like this, and if there’s a good reason for it, but it is a bit odd that the used tyre rule is still in effect when you’re put out of the top ten. Sure, it would otherwise mean that only nine drivers would be following the rule otherwise, but is that really a problem?

      1. It’s always like this since the rule to put Q2 tires as starting tires for top 10 enacted. But if you don’t know yet, it will revised next year so Q3 drivers that starts at the back of the grid are exempt from that rule..

        1. @sonicslv I didn’t, thanks!

    3. Well, the set has only been in use for a single flying-lap, so I doubt it’s going to make a real difference to drivers ahead with an entirely fresh, unused set of the same compound.

    4. Imo Merc, Ferrari, and Verstappen is capable of getting into top6 from the back of the grid on any reasonable strategy.
      If I were them i’d do 2 or even 3 stops and do a nice performance test on that engine :P Probably that’d be too much of a showdown although.
      It’s not that uncommon to reuse non factory new tyres at the grand prix anyway, smaller teams with weaker tyre management have no other choice.

    5. Some kinds of tyres can last longer if you put in a lap or so and reuse later, although i have not heard whether current ones having this feature or not, so likely not.
      But I’d say this season’s hard is so durable that the additional 1 lap is not a problem, and the medium is quite long lasting either.

    6. I fully suspect that this is a decision and approach that they will regret.
      To not put Bottas on the best tyre and set-up for the race from the back of the grid, is a bit of an ego display.
      Bottas will have enough difficulty getting up to 5th, let alone higher.
      This strategy will limit his options and my bet …. he won’t finish.

      1. @rekibsn, it hasn’t really been that much of a struggle for a driver from the top three teams to cut their way through the pack whenever they’ve had to start at the back, as the pace differential between themselves and the rest of the pack has usually made it reasonably trivial.

        Furthermore, Bottas will be going into this race knowing that there are drivers ahead of him, such as Vettel and Albon, who are on what is thought to be a poorer strategy (starting on soft tyres), and knowing that Ferrari were having problems with overheating tyres.

        I agree it is certainly not the optimum strategy and am surprised Mercedes went for it, but it’s probably not as catastrophic as you suggest it is.

    7. Mercedes can afford to have experiments. Will it work or not? – It is good for race viewers, too.

      1. The part that isn’t making any sense is that Bottas WILL have to start on used Medium tyres.
        He could have been starting on New Mediums which would have opened up the strategy window another lap or two as well as having another New set of softs available for the race.
        Yes, his progress through the field will be entertaining. Looking forward to it and best of luck for him.

    8. Valterri its James….

    9. Looking forward to seeing just how potent a new Mercedes PU really can be, turned up to 11 for its last race weekend. Bottas should have some fun.

      Those Ferraris are much slower since the technical directives.

    Comments are closed.