Wolff accepts Bottas is “not happy” strategy cost him place to Hamilton

2020 70th Anniversary Grand Prix

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff disagreed with Valtteri Bottas’s criticism of their strategy in today’s race, but accepts his driver’s frustration at losing a position to his team mate.

Bottas said Mercedes were “sleeping” at times during the race. He started from pole position but was passed by Max Verstappen shortly after the Red Bull driver made his first pit stop. Bottas complained he’d been told to manage his pace before Verstappen appeared in his mirrors, and also said his early second pit stop left him vulnerable to Lewis Hamilton at the end of the race.

Wolff discussed the team’s strategy with Bottas after the race. “I don’t think we were sleeping,” he said, “but I accept his perspective. I think we just had the slower car today and you have to just admit that.”

Keeping Bottas ahead of Verstappen was always going to be a challenge given the performance difference between their cars, said Wolff.

“Should we have done the opposite to Max? As a matter of fact this wouldn’t have changed anything because Max would have come out with a fresh tyre, we would have continued with a tyre that wasn’t in the best state any more, and he just putted in front of us. So I’m not sure what we could have done better.”

Having fallen to second ahead of Hamilton, Bottas’s final pit stop inadvertently helped his team mate get into a stronger position at the end of the race, Wolff said.

“Obviously, he’s not in a happy place that he was second and Lewis was third. But it was the learning that happened on-track when when we got Valtteri’s tyre in, we saw that actually there was a lot of rubber left, and we extended Lewis’s stint.

“There were big vibrations, but a lot of rubber, and therefore he was getting quicker and quicker the more the rubber went down and that’s why we could extend the stint.”

Having delayed his final stop, Hamilton was able to use his fresher rubber to attack Bottas in the final stint.

“Eventually Lewis overtook Valtteri,” said Wolff. “It’s clear that he’s not is not happy and I totally respect it. None of us is happy today with the result.”

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Keith Collantine
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77 comments on “Wolff accepts Bottas is “not happy” strategy cost him place to Hamilton”

  1. Well of course he’s not happy. Mercedes used the information from pitting Bottas at the same time as Verstappen, knowing full well he’d never be able to overtake the Red Bull to extend Hamilton’s stint and gave Hamilton the best chance of passing Bottas – despite Bottas being the lead car. Pitting when they did or pitting later wouldn’t have made any difference in beating Verstappen but it made all the difference on beating Hamilton and that’s what’s affecting Bottas, especially as Mercedes would have all the data to see that. Mercedes regularly treat Bottas racing Hamilton as racing a team-mate but Hamilton racing Bottas as fighting a rival.

    1. Maybe. My take at the time was that bringing Bottas in and leaving Lewis out (as is the prerogative of the driver in front) was compromising Lewis’ race by leaving him on tyres that Lewis said himself “were finished”

    2. That’s the point, Mercedes had no idea the tires still had life. If they had stopped Hamilton before Bottas, and Hamilton jumped him and it turned out the Tyres were really gone then Bottas would have complained more.

    3. So what are you saying. Having got the information off of Bottas tyres, they should have ignored the evidence and deliberately disadvantaged Hamilton? You would have been the first one on here complaining if they gave Ham the first call (as he was second on the track), and Bottas’s tyre had gone bang.

    4. Where where you when Mercedes favored Rosberg strategy Austria 2016 when in fact Hamilton was the lead driver at that time? I bet it didnt even bother you!

      1. Brilliant idea to base your argument on the events from four years ago, with completely different teammate and team approach.

        1. Here’s one from last year (same team, same approach): Hamilton spent multiple laps battling Leclerc for the race lead, only for Bottas to overtake him towards the end on fresher tires because Hamilton’s had fallen off.

    5. I think Mercedes wanted to pit Bottas to go after Verstappen on new tyres. I think by doing this, it forced Red Bull to cover him by pitting on the same lap. I’d imagine Red Bull would not want to leave Verstappen out with Bottas behind on newer tyres considering the way the race has been going. In pitting Bottas and Verstappen, Mercedes must have thought that they could still win the race after seeing the tyres from Bottas, and as such, they decided to leave Hamilton out. With this data, I believe that Mercedes lost the race once they did not qualify on the hard tyre as that tyre appeared to hold on better than they expected.

      The thing is, if they left Bottas out for longer, could he have done the same thing as Hamilton?

      1. Two thinkgs there @krichelle. First of all Bottas was already BEHIND Max, so Red Bull did not pit in reaction to Bottas, he was aready ahead.
        Pitting on the same strategy as the guy who just beat you on track is never going to win you anything (that is exactly why the MErcedes usual same strategy mantra works to keep the order preserved). Their only chance of changing anything would be to do something different. Especially if they had a hope of still being able to win this race.

        The second thing where you are missing the point there, is that Bottas would not have needed to do what Hamilton did. He was 6 secons ahead of Hamilton on track, he would have stayed ahead if both were given similar stragegiey. So he would not have had to pass his teammate.

        1. Bottas and Verstappen pitted at the same time for their second stops. At this point the latter was already ahead of the former. I was surprised why Verstappen came in at the same lap as Bottas, and I suspect Red Bull wanted to cover an undercut or a late charge from Bottas, since at that point, Verstappen could have tried to finish the race. In regards to my question if Bottas could have done the same as Hamilton, I meant that if they kept him out, and they pitted Hamilton instead of him, would he have done the same pace as Hamilton when he continued until lap 46?

          If Mercedes pitted Hamilton the following lap after Bottas and Verstappen, they were already giving up the win. Leaving one of their drivers out was the correct call when pushing for the win, and for this type of strategy, I prefer to have Hamilton off setting and then charging back after seeing what happened Hungary 2019, Italy 2019, Mexico 2019 and Hungary this year. Hamilton appears to handle the off set strategy better than Bottas. I remember in Azerbaijan 2018 where Bottas made it work. This is only whenever another team is threatening for the win. Otherwise, if they are 1-2 comfortably, give them the main strategy option.

    6. Exactly @rocketpanda. The issue was not that strategy lost them the race vs. Max (that would have had to be a decision to go out on hards too in Q2 on saturday, though it seems not even that would have helped much), it was that Mercedes gave Hamilton the strategy to get ahead of Bottas.

      1. It seems that Toto is afraid that Verstappen will be a WDC threat to Lewis, and is already using Bottas as a #2.
        During yesterday’s race they should have used the worse strategy on Lewis if they wanted to be fair to their drivers
        @rocketpanda, @bascb

        1. @bascb, @coldfly I think @krichelle makes a fair point that Mercedes were trying something with Hamilton, after, as usual pitting the front running driver first, and it worked better than the alternative.

          But, I also think that they went into the race with wrong expectations and certainly didn’t end up giving Bottas the right strategy. And neither did Hamilton; I think both probably could have run longer on that first tyre, even with vibrations, which might have made the rest of the race a bit more open, as indicated by the question/answer about tyre degradation in HAM’s 2nd stint – should have run both of them longer, and should have realised they weren’t in race with Verstappen anymore, just each other.

          I can imagine Bottas felt pretty glum being told they were allowed to ‘fight’ at a point they all knew his tyres were not up to it, might as well have said to let Hamilton past as that was the likely outcome.

          1. fair point, @bosyber.
            But maybe Toto could’ve decided to keep Bottas in #2 and Hamilton in #3 as soon as he found out that they inadvertedly gave the better strategy to Hamilton.
            It won’t be very often that Bottas both qualifies better and is able to keep Hamilton behind during the race :P

          2. @coldfly Telling them to hold stations when both are in competition for the WDC isn’t a good approach. Why stifle the racing near the front? We need as much of it as possible. Surely all of the people bemoaning Mercedes being at the top can’t be asking for this, when they’re already complaining about how predictable F1 is, due to how good a job Mercedes have done. Or do people just want to handicap Hamilton seeing as he’s the favourite? Surely team orders should only be used in situations where there’s a strong chance of technical issues (like in Austria), once one of them doesn’t have a realistic chance of the WDC, or Verstappen becomes a massive threat for the WDC?

        2. I highly doubt Mercedes are worried about verstappan. They are almost a second clear in qualifying and in the other 4 races this season redbull have been nowhere near the merc race pace.

  2. They obviously were thinking of the win when they were within 2s of Verstappen and didn’t want to give Verstappen an undercut.

    1. and didn’t want to give Verstappen an undercut.

      an undercut for the driver that’s ahead ?
      Maybe they wanted Bottas to go for the undercut. But as soon as Verstappen pitted that strategy was gone and they should have left Bottas out on a similar strategy that they gave to Hamilton eventually.
      If they wanted to bring one in to check the tyres it should have been the worst positioned driver.

      1. But at that time they had no idea the tyres were going to last, or keep up their performance surely? If they pitted Ham first and as expected the new tyre was faster than the old, Ham would have been ahead after the pit stops. And we would again be arguing that Merc favours Ham.

        1. doomed if you ……

          I would have hated it, but if Toto really didn’t know what the best strategy was, then he should have ordered them to stay in position towards the end (or give HAM a few laps to catch VER, and fall back to 3rd if he couldn’t).

          1. @coldfly

            I would have hated it

            So why suggest Mercedes should have done it?
            As you’re acknowledging, it’s precisely that kind of manipulation of race order of team drivers on track that looks bad for Formula 1. Hamilton was probably going to make either strategy work better, beating Bottas if he pitted first or second. True, he could have told to pit immediately after Bottas to try to keep him behind. But staying out, Mercedes had the vague chance of a race win still (HAM pitting under a SC for example, or using fresh tyres to win after a restart). The team’s prime focus has to be on winning the race, surely, then on ensuring the highest possible position for both drivers.

          2. So why suggest Mercedes should have done it?

            Did not expect that I’d have to explain something like this, @david-br.
            I thought it would be obvious that there can be a difference between my preference and a suggested action for a third part based on a condictional statement and stated preferences by the person in charge.

          3. @coldfly That still makes no sense.

          4. Don’t worry, I didn’t expect you to understand.
            The previous comment wasn’t an explanation, but merely an elaborated statement of surprise that you missed it the first time.

    2. RB won on superior strategy. My worry is Bottas didn’t threaten Max one bit when both pitted almost same time

  3. RocketTankski
    9th August 2020, 21:42

    Some people are born to greatness. Some have greatness thrust upon them. Some are destined to be a dependable wingman.

  4. Bottas is a robot not as racing Driver. He can get speed out of a car but is no racer like verstappen or Hamilton

    1. Robottas.

      1. His time will come

    2. Unfortunately, I’m starting to share this opinion. Bottas is quick & I doubt anyone sensible would seriously say otherwise, but when it comes to the wheel to wheel stuff he’s woefully inadequate. He seems to fight Lewis the hardest (maybe because he knows there’s a sort of “safety net” there, in that they’re obligated to play nice with each other) but time & again Verstappen & other rivals just cruise right by him & he all but waves them through.

      1. Completely agree here @aldoid

  5. I’m no fan of Hamilton, especially with is prissy little whiny childish remarks every time someone else on the grid is beating him (some blah blah implying that Red Bull was cheating. Hamilton is seriously horrible), but come on. People whine and moan that Mercs are always on the exact same strategy and they demand the drivers get different strategies. They are given different strategies and you still whine and moan. Hamilton managed his tires, today, and was given a different strategy.

    1. Problem was bottas thought he’d won the race with pole

      1. And had they had the exact same strategy, I think Bottas would have clearly won. I just don’t think he could have kept the tires on as long as he did. Hamilton drove well today and, like I said, I’m not fan of him whatsoever but he definitely earned position over Bottas today.

    2. The very elite in any sphere are most often unlikeable characters.
      Personally I couldn’t care less what a driver does off track or what his “personality ” is like.
      I judge the racing only.

    3. And if you think Hamilton is “seriously horrible” you must’ve lived a very sheltered life.

      1. Lucky Wookiee Ten Dollar
        10th August 2020, 15:28

        Some people just decide to hold one driver to a completely different standard than all the others for some reason.

  6. “I think we just had the slower car today and you have to just admit that.” Yup. The Mercedes lost the race yesterday with (in hindsight) the wrong tyre, and Verstappen was simply faster. But if you’re 1-2 you want to try to stay that way, instead of settling for 2-3, so I can’t see what they could have done differently to win this one.

  7. Bottas: The Robin to Hamilton’s Batman. Bucky to Captain America. Chewbacca to Han Solo. Donkey to Shrek.

    In short, the perfect No. 2

    1. At least Robin joined the teen Titans to lead and had balls in Young Justice
      Bucky also had balls in Winter Soldier
      The last two I agree with

      1. It’s never late you know. Maybe after all these years of being the best no. 2 he has an epiphany and goes to another team to lead.

    2. The only reason he is in that seat is because of that. Good enough to deliver good results with the Merc car, agreeable enough not to cause much issues for not being favored as well as acting as a wingman when needed.

  8. Merc saw once more that HAM is the only truly warrior it has when things get boiled. BOT couldn’t capitalize his lead at the 1st stint and didn’t resist at all as VER came out of his pitstop right behind him.
    Seeing HAM being quicker than BOT at the 1st stint and knowing how hard HAM fights when it matters, I believe things could be different if HAM was ahead at he start.
    BOT cannot make the difference when the team struggles.

    1. Hamilton was quicker in the first stint?
      What have you been smoking fella?
      Bottas managed his tyres better than Hamilton and was pulling away at the time of the first stops.

      1. He wasn’t pulling away until HAM was forced to back off. Dirty air and equal cars couldn’t give him the edge to pass. So yes HAM destroyed his tires behind BOT and BOT surely had an easier task managing in the front. Lap 12, just before the 1st pitstop, HAM was 1,5sec behind BOT and had VER on his tail. 12 laps of clean air and BOT couldn’t manage a decent gap? This was the part that decided the race’s outcome. What have YOU been smoking fella

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          10th August 2020, 10:22

          And Bottas was told to look after his tyres in the first stint too during the race and it was was heard on the world feed live. With the state Hamilton’s tyres were in vs Bottas, had both been pushing, It is likely Bottas will have been quicker at the stage you are comparing here.

    2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      10th August 2020, 1:32

      Hamilton really didn’t look quicker than Bottas soon through the first stint. Both the 1st and 2nd stint, Hamilton dropped back several seconds. 7 at one point in the 2nd stint. And as wolf said, when they pitted Bottas, there was clearly performance left in the trye so Bottas could have done the same as Hamilton. He was 5 seconds ahead when he pitted and had tyres in far better condition than Hamilton. Now i don’t blame hamilton for this as the dirty air really didn’t help, but if Hamilton managed 10 extra laps on them, that showed Bottas could have done at least that had he stayed out for longer.As Mercedes confirmed, once they found out the condition of Bottas’s tyre, it made sense to leave him out. But this was simply lucky for Hamilton as by trye pace, He wasn’t quicker than Bottas this race and only got by because of his significent advantage of much newer tyres.When they fade as quick as they do, 10 laps difference is massive. mercedes did the right thing given they found out the tyres could go longer, but Bottas couldn’t have got a better result unless the team had done things differently.

      The level of critisism towards Bottas recently is just rediculous. He’s had a win in the first race and has looked very close last weekend and better last time out pace wise. And that is comparing him to the best driver on the grid. Is it because people are fed up of Hamilton doing so well that they are just desperate for a driver to beat him therefore every time Bottas gets beaten he gets moaned at? It really does seem that way sometimes. He would only be 10 points behind Hamilton in the standings had he got the 2 2nd places he deserved.

      I also disagree with your comment that Hamilton is the only one that makes the difference when the team is struggling. In Austria last year, The car was really struggling and Bottas al least managed to get a podium.while Vettel managed to squeeze by Hamilton meaning he was only 5th. So it isn’t every time and as I’ve explained, I’m really not sure how Bottas could have done any better. The team got the best result they realisticly could, but Bottas was just unfortunate that the evidence that his tyres still had life in them helped Hamilton beat him.

      1. In the 1st stint HAM was easily staying within DRS range for several laps. In addition VER was closing the gap to HAM. This usually happens when someone’s lace gets sandwiched by a slow leader. It is very rare a leader not being able to get out of DRS or pull away after a race start.
        Of course HAM is not the only one to have helped the team in the past. Nevertheless, he is much more successful in battle than not. I criticize BOT a lot for VER’s easy pass on him, it was a decisive move. I don’t believe HAM could keep VER in his dirty air for a few laps destroying RBR’s strategy.
        BOT is quick but lacks of top-class racecraft.

        1. Hamilton dropped back to over 2 seconds during the first stint before Bottas pitted, he was losing time and was going to be passed by Verstappen.

          Bottas then doubled his lead during the second stint and Hamilton was again falling behind at a big rate.

          Mercedes then foolishly boxed Bottas at the same time as Verstappen and that was his raced finished, they should have known he would wreck his tyres in Max’s wake.

          Bottas out performed Hamilton all weekend and got shafted, even on bad days Hamilton is lucky yet again.

  9. Bottas is useless just like in 2019 he ended up helping vettel more just by taking away points from hamilton. He isn’t capable of beating Hamilton so he ends up helping the other teams driver

    1. I’m used to your inconsistent and incoherent gibberish crying about Vettel and Verstappen. @carlosmedrano
      And again you seem to go in that direction.
      But what surprised me is that you now opinion that Vettel in 2019 and Verstappen yesterday were so superior that Hamilton needed the help of Bottas to (have a chance to) beat them :P

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        10th August 2020, 10:26

        It is clear to many that I’m a bottas fan, but there also seem to be rather a lot of Bottas haters around. He’s against the best driver on the grid so comparing him to Hamilton shouldn’t make him as bad as people suggest.

      2. I do not think his mind is able to that kind of abstraction.
        He is a black and white man in his opinions, hardly ever founded in facts.

  10. Toto hears ya, Toto don’t care.

  11. Where where you when Mercedes favored Rosberg strategy Austria 2016 when in fact Hamilton was the lead driver at that time? I bet it didnt even bother you!

  12. I was just gutted seeing Hamilton creep up on Bottas. Sucks.

  13. Wolff sacrificed Bottas by giving him a repeat of his slower second stint, whereas Lewis got the different strategy to try to win the race.
    Nothing wrong with Mercedes being Hamilton’s team. Just don’t pretend otherwise with contradictory claims.

  14. Bottas complaining about strategy when most of the strategies they put him on, he fails to make it work.

  15. You can understand why Bottas is unhappy, but frankly, Mercedes were more or less pushed into a split strategy by RB, and I feel they made the best decision based on the data at hand.

    Bottas actually got snookered because he was the lead car, which is unfortunate. Further to this, I’ve always felt that Bottas struggles when race conditions are constantly changing.

    1. I too feel that’s pretty much what happened @jaymenon10; I do think Mercedes is sometimes too conservative, and the lead car suffers, and Bottas is more often less likely to salvage a good result when that happens.

  16. If Bottas wants to win some championships, he should win about 9 races in a row, that is sufficient to rattle Hamilton. Anything less and he wont be able to.

  17. It’s a lie they only realized Bottas’ tyres were Ok after getting them in as the lap times and the radio comments proved.

    They also knew exactly that new tyres would end up going through a blistering phase again (even I could foresee that), and that the optimal strategy was to stretch the stint and put on new tyres to only do enough laps before blistering started again like they did with Hamilton.

  18. I thought they left Hamilton out as it was there only chance of the win once Verstappen pitted on the same lap as Bottas. While Hamilton was out front there was a 5 lap or so period where had there been a safety car he could have changed tyres and come out in first place. Once Verstappen closed that gap he then managed tyres but didn’t decrease the gap much further which allowed Hamilton to extend his run for 5 more laps.

    Red Bull then realised they were still at risk of the one stop so gave Verstappen the push so the gap start decreasing. Rather than be a sitting duck they then called Hamilton in, gave him fresh rubber and let him attack.

    Unfortunately the time taken to pass Leclerc plus the fact that Verstappen had some pace still left in his tyres meant he could only get Bottas. This strategy wasn’t about preferential treatment it was the only legitimate chance Mercedes had to win and it fell to Hamilton because he didn’t get to pit first. Mercedes have always allowed the second car to run longer and that was how Hamilton won last year by staying out and benefiting from a safety car.

    It’s Bottas fault that Verstappen got passed him so easily and he needs to stop blaming the team. As soon as he let Verstappen past the team had to then throw the dice on strategy for a win.

    1. @slowmo, there was no chance for Bottas to resist Ver. His faster tires made a pass inevitable. Even Ham pitted to avoid being passed on track. Something that was about to happen in a few corners later.
      Ver had again, a better tire management then both Merc drivers. On of his strong points and of course a car able to put it to work.
      Merc was beaten on its home -GP, by a better driver in a better managed drive. Even two Mercs could not hinder the Red Bull who again, had to compete without a wingman.

      1. Given Albon’s race pace, I think I’m going to disagree it was Verstappen being stronger yesterday that made the difference rather than the different car, but largely agree with Mercedes being beaten by a car+driver that was better in those conditions erikje.

      2. Lewis pitted to “avoid being passed on track”? Behave yourself! That’s some superority complex!
        Lewis has raced in F1 for 14 years. If his tyres were going to last and it would be of benefit to his race, he and his team would be fine with being passed on track.
        Lewis also does not pit unless told to do so… so if your daft theory is correct then it was Merc that did not want to be passed on track. Dont expect you to see that though. Orange spectacles can dim your view quite significantly.

      3. Wasn’t “HOME” GP either! Lewis is on win No 7 of his “home” GP.
        Max has won just 2 more races in his F1 career than Lewis has won at Silverstone. Something to think about.

      4. Actually Bottas could have resisted had he not driven so slowly on the laps before his stop as Bottas said himself btw. The Red Bull was better on tyres (down to the car, not Verstappen) and hence he won in the faster car on the day. Hamilton came in for a stop because there was 10 laps left and it was the optimal time so that he could just go flat out with no tyre worries. He’s been passed on track by Verstappen before so you’re bias is making you sound a bit (lot) foolish.

  19. How many times have Lewis and Bottas being 1 and 2, and they have pitted Bottas first to protect him.

    It rarely happens the otherway even though lewis need protecting today

    1. +1 And Mercedes have more than once sacrificed Hamilton for Bottas’s sake (Russia last year, I think, or maybe the year before), far more explicitly than the case of Silverstone 2.
      I really don’t see the issue. Bottas had pit stop preference as he was in the lead. He’s free to discuss strategy with the team and also free to decide not to pit, staying out longer if he wanted. If he felt the tyres were OK, he should have sais so and remained out. Hamilton, though, once Bottas and Verstappen had pitted, had the option of pitting too and seeing himself stuck in third, or ‘risking’ staying out without much risk since 3rd was more or less assured. And it needs repeating, Hamilton has made extra pit stops, fresh tyres and chasing down the lead work various times, Bottas far less so (against Hamilton in the US maybe the most recent).

  20. I think the point is, you simply never see a Mercedes strategy that ends up favoring Bottas over Hamilton and that kinda nullifies all arguments.

    1. Yes there has been, the problem is unless the strategy gives him a 20s advantage in the race he’s unlikely to have the pace to beat Hamilton given his race pace defecit at most tracks.

    2. @malrg Yes that’s exactly it

  21. RB won on superior strategy. My worry is Bottas didn’t threaten Max one bit when both pitted almost same time

  22. The fact that Mercedes have only ever offered Bottas a rolling one year contract over Hamiltons multi year deals speaks volumes of the peking order at Mercedes. Shame still.

  23. Singapore 2019 bottas was told to back off to stop him making an undercut on Hamilton.
    This should have been a similar thing as once it was sure lewis couldn’t catch max.
    Call the race off to begin with or Just let bottas back through.
    This is worse then red bull and multi 21 or even ferrari at Germany 2010. Those races were for the win when it was a competitive season with other cars. This is an in house fight between the same 2 cars and one was already 30 points ahead

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