Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Hungaroring, 2020

Bottas keen to avoid repeat of fuel and ride height errors

2020 F1 season

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Valtteri Bottas is keen to avoid a repeat of set-up errors which occured on his car during the last two race weekends.

Speaking to Tommi Koivunen during the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend, Bottas said he had too much fuel in his car during his qualifying run, meaning he was carrying excess weight.

“I should’ve have a chance for a pole position,” said the Mercedes driver. “I got too much fuel for the qualification for some reason. It of course affected also [race] day.”

Carrying the extra fuel weight cost Bottas “apparently about a tenth” of a second, he said. “It of course depends. It could be more or less than a tenth.” Team mate Lewis Hamilton beat him to pole position for 0.107 seconds.

Bottas described another problem with the set-up of his car during the Styrian Grand Prix, which saw a very wet qualifying session and dry race.

“In the second Austrian race there was a slip-up in my car,” he said. “It wasn’t at the right ride height. It was adjusted too high and it probably affected a lot. Especially when it rained.”

“There has been a bit too much mess-ups but we learn from those,” he said, adding he would discuss what happened with the team this week. “But it was a human error. Somebody made a mistake on something, that’s all.

“Of course it’s a pity. This year every small detail counts.” Bottas trails Hamilton by four points in the drivers’ championship after Sunday’s race.

A Mercedes spokesperson said both drivers suffered minor problems with their cars over the opening race weekends and these did not alter which of them finished ahead in qualifying or the race.

Translation provided by MTV Urheilu

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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56 comments on “Bottas keen to avoid repeat of fuel and ride height errors”

  1. Good article, we should learn more about very human nature of car setup.

    1. I think it was his rear right had 1.5psi more pressure than it should which effected his ride height and handling issues :)

      1. hehe… Should have used a digital gauge.

  2. It really shows that the teams have been out of operation for very long before this intense stint of 3 races in as many weeks. I am sure such things happened all over the paddock, helping to make things more variable.

  3. Neither of these was reported at the time, especially the fuel-thing.

    1. It wasn’t Occon driving…
      I mean by that that some drivers will search for excuses quicker than other. Bottas knows that those communication are more important internally within the team. Without the question we don’t know what he was answering but it feels like triggered comment.

      1. It wasn’t Occon driving…


        Even if there was a gram of more fuel in Ocon’s tank it would have been widely reported to every f1 sports journalist via radio itself.

        1. GP2 pressure GP2, aaargh!

    2. @jerejj he might not feel comfortable making much noise without a contact.. And it may seem a bit too convenient that the extra fuel was exactly enough to give Hamilton pole. I suspect he knows his compliance is what keeps him there and that there are no better offers coming to him.

  4. Could be him doing a bit of mind games – I hope it is actually. Hamilton was always quick to point out his car problems if he had any after losing a race – made some fuss about it after Aus ‘18.
    Which makes sense I guess if you’re managing your opponent’s head

    1. @minilemm It could be mind games, but I doubt it.

      It would be great if Bottas went all out on the mind games. It seems to be the only way to disrupt Hamilton in any way is to mess with his head. Don’t know if Bottas is devious enough to do it over an entire season though.

      1. One might hope that he`s getting a bit desperate after realising that simply focusing on himself (or whatever his approach actually was – what do we know) won`t cut it.
        I’d love to see that, I’d love to see him try everything within the rulebook (or a bent version of it) – better than him thinking he lost the fight without trying everything and us being treated to this same bs “Bottas 2.0” that wins an occasional race and fades into the “oh well it’s tough luck but I’m a wingman and it’s only fair” territory

    2. @minilemm I think it’s at least Bottas’s way of motivating himself. But this isn’t unfamiliar territory and Hamilton would recognize that when Bottas starts making these excuses, he’s already feeling the pressure. They remind me of when he used the contract negotiations as an excuse for being distracted. It made no difference to his performance level when he did eventually sign a contract though. This time the contract is already done and he’s already trailing – or sensing that he’s trailing behind, which is probably more important. If I were his team, I wouldn’t be too impressed by him throwing all the blame on setup mistakes either, especially with that touch of innuendo that it’s all a bit ‘mysterious’ and maybe on purpose. Going by some comments here, his hints have already been picked up on.

  5. Weren’t there reports of team members being annoyed drivers were flying off while they were stuck at the track? I believe it was only Bottas and Leclerc doing it. Payback? It seems too basic errors to make for the best team in history.

    1. @balue Only three drivers. The two you mentioned and Norris but only he had a ‘justifiable’ reason for doing that extra travelling. The other two essentially did it only for the sake of it.

    2. That would explain the extra fuel to get back to Monaco and ride height to cross the Alps, @balue.

  6. I hate to say this, but Bottas just doesn’t adapt well in variable car setups and race conditions as well as Hamilton. Am pretty sure that every other driver doesn’t always have perfect car setups and race conditions to suit their driving, it’s up to the driver to adapt to those variable conditions.

    1. Stroll will never consistently outpace Perez
      Ocon ” ” ” ” Ricciardo
      Bottas ” ” ” ” Hamilton

  7. I could have missed it but I’ve not seen any indo at all on this site or anywhere about the start error that happened of Valteris wheel which led to his jump start.
    Anyone have any further info on it or a comment from Mercedes?

    1. He mentioned that his screen suddenly changed colour, and that that triggered the false start (at least that’s what non vision impaired people call it).
      I don’t have the link though.

    2. I’ve read he trains the startprocedure by using the rev-counter lights as start lights. But, Mercedes also has a system to keep the driver wary of dropping the revs too much at the start. When he saw the rev-light, he thought about his training and jumped.

      But there seems to be an excuse coming in every other day now.
      Tuesday: my car was overfueled.
      Thursday: my car had the wrong ride height.

      Perhaps it was a problem between headrest and steering wheel…

      1. That’s indeed what the Mercedes youtube debrief mentioned Señor Sjon (adding ‘sure we will be working with him to improve there’ or something alike).

        I don’t know, mind games, a bit of saying ‘could have been there, if I get everything right’ – in the end, I hope he keeps improving and putting pressure on Hamilton, great to see when it happens, though I doubt he’ll be able to keep Hamilton from another title this year, surely no use to not keep trying, right!

      2. Indeed, I’m sure it was glazed brakes on the day?

        1. @psynrg In Austria on the second qualifying day.

  8. So it seems Mercedes are sabotaging Bottas to ensure that Hamilton beats him to 7 titles, disgusting behaviour.

    1. Perhaps they are trying to level out Botas’ white privilege to give Hamilton a fair chance!

      1. Good one!

      2. Maybe so but this is not on so early in the season.

        This is a horrible way to treat a driver IMO.

    2. Ahh I see, time to troll then.

      1. I don’t see how he’s trolling, you just can’t accuse him of that…

    3. Pathetic little racist troll thread. Keep crying and seeking imaginary excuses the lot of you.

  9. I’ve lost track. Are we on the ‘Bottas is just a second tier driver’ excuse ; or are we on the ‘Bottas could beat one of the greatest drivers in F1 history if only the team wouldn’t sabotage him’ one?

    1. @riptide
      You forgot the ‘Bottas is still familiarising himself to the car/team’ one. Bottas 5.0 will be the Ultimate challenger to Lewis.

      1. And Bottas 5.0 will be eating Porridge 5.1 and Lewis for breakfast :-D

  10. Don’t forget the number of personals are limited compare to pre covid times. These human errors exactly what happen when someone got to much in his/her shoulder.

  11. It wasn’t at the right ride height. It was adjusted too high and it probably affected a lot. Especially when it rained

    I am a bit confused here, i think a high ride height is indeed optimal for rain, right ? I remember before parc ferme was introduced we used to see the mechanics working on adjusting the ride height of the cars into a high set up between the sessions when it was a dry qualy and a rainy race.

    1. You are right with the ride height. A high ride heigh is recommended for rain situations, and this is what baffles me, as Mercedes confirmed that they were running a dry setup in Austria through both weekends. I also wonder if he is referring to the front or the rear height.

      My boy Bottas starting to learn from Rosberg. I will wait for a few more races to comment on his behavior.

      1. Isn’t the high ride height in rain thing simply a case of ‘how much rain’? You need to clear the puddles, but if there aren’t enough of them, then the lower setting is better for downforce.

        1. Higher ride height will allow the car to roll more and put more downwards force on the tyre rather than a sideways force, better for low grip situations but makes the car less responsive as it has to roll before any force gets to the tyre. Lower ride height in wet or low grip will make the tyre slide sideways instead of biting in to the track. If Botas’ car was too high in the dry the extra roll would make the car feel sloppy and unresponsive, also slower to respond to catching mistakes so harder to drive.

          1. That’s not taking into account aero downforce, which surely trumps all the old school suspension theory?

            I understood that if the tea tray contacts a water surface, puddle, stream etc, air flow under the car is disrupted and downforce/control marginalised, hence the safety factor of higher ride height?

      2. If he tries to rock the boat like Rosberg did to the team than he has to leave. Mercedes has said they would not tolerate the toxic enviroment in the team again. Remember Vettel is waiting on the wing?

        1. F1oSaurus (@)
          23rd July 2020, 20:26

          Yeah nothing better to have than Vettel for a bit of extra toxicity

    2. Could be that it ended up being too high, or too high at one end of the car.

  12. In wet you get extra 5mm of ride height by tire’s tread only. Fuel consumption is lower because of lesser acceleration in order to keep the car under control in these conditions. According to Valtteri that sums up two serious flaws in one session. Hard to believe, it’s Mercedes after all.

  13. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    23rd July 2020, 12:40

    We’re only three races into the season and already there are reasons why he’s not qualified better, not beaten Hamilton well enough and why he’s already losing?

    I have absolutely no doubt that Bottas is a good driver, and probably every bit as capable of winning a world title as Hamilton is. But Hamilton, in that car, with that team, just clicks in a way that Bottas just hasn’t managed to do. This year it’s realistically a battle of two and if Bottas can’t beat him now when he literally has just ONE car to beat he never will.

    1. d probably every bit as capable of winning a world title as Hamilton is.

      Past 4 seasons haven’t given me enough data to support this claim @rocketpanda

  14. If it’s a 2 horse race for the championship (and unless another team makes a huge leap, then it is), then every single point counts so and every second place (compared to a team mate’s win) increases the gap.

    I just hope the championship is not decided by a reliability issue – if it’s crazy close between HAM and BOT then a zero-point scoring race could be game over!

    1. Exactly, very tiny margins in quali, and in the race, that is the biggest predictor of results.

  15. @frasier The car bottoming out is never a good thing, wet or dry. Higher ride height will give less downforce but only from the floor. At the end of the day suspension theory is king. Aero is a lovely add on that dramatically increases grip but your base mechanical grip must be good otherwise your areo will amplify any imbalances. You can’t add bigger wings when it rains but you can adjust your suspension and centre of gravity. Guaranteed, the changes made to F1 cars in the wet are all about suspension theory and mechanical grip. Ride height is not raised to clear puddles, when they are that deep the race/session is red flagged.

  16. If the car bottoming out was “never a good thing”, then why are there so many sparks from the titanium (my understanding) rub blocks.
    It seems that the teams refresh these just prior to qualifying, hence the fire-works for the first few laps.
    The ride height seems to be set as low as they can get away with and still keep the plank from getting eaten away.

  17. @rekibsn, Setup is always a compromise. Accepting the the lesser of 2 evils or balancing a bit of both, whichever is fastest on the stop watch!
    Red bull were the first to go back to pull rod suspension which isn’t ideal but they were able to compensate for this with the areo advantage it gave and make the car faster overall.
    Taking the ills of a little bottoming is obviously faster than the disadvantages of higher ride height and COG – otherwise they wouldn’t do it, but it’s still bad! It’s all a balance.

  18. I’m one for looking at the cynical side of reality, in on the words, reality. These statements are conspiracy theorists … dreams. Must admit I didn’t think of merc this lowly. I don’t know if I believe merc needs to give Lewis an edge, and like this.
    Is Bottas still fooling himself? He is not meant to win the title, he must know that.
    Massa used to do this as well, one thing in english another to their national media.

    1. He is not meant to win the title, he must know that

      Comeon. At no point has Bottas even remotely looked liked he is a title threat. Rosberg atleast gave Hamilton something to think about and when the stars aligned in 2016, actually beat Lewis to the title. I doubt Bottas would be able to repeat Rosberg’s feat even if he was handed a Malaysia like Nico was.

  19. Giving excuses pushes you too far from making things truly happen.

  20. What’s with the ride-height violation? I thought the minimum ride-height was established by the silly wooden plank under the car. Why would anyone want a maximum ride-height? Just another FIA asinine rule.

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