Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Spa-Francorchamps, 2020

Mercedes clarify Bottas radio message, state drivers are “free to race”

2020 Belgian Grand Prix

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Mercedes have explained a radio message from Valtteri Bottas during the Belgian Grand Prix in which he expressed surprise at being told not to use an engine mode to attack team mate Lewis Hamilton.

Early in the race, while following Hamilton, Bottas was reminded to select the setting “HPP one set position four” on his steering wheel. He was told not to use mode “one” because the Mercedes drivers had “agreed not to use it against each other”.

“I don’t remember that,” Bottas replied.

Team principal Toto Wolff said the drivers had been given instructions to reserve the last available use of their highest power engine mode in case they came under attack from a rival, such as Max Verstappen.

“There’s no rules in place between the two drivers,” said Wolff. “They are allowed and free to race.

“In the morning we agreed and discussed that, we obviously have a limited amount of overtakes and that we would try not to use them against each other, or the last one against each other, because there’s always the risk of needing it against Max or any other car.

“So this is what we were referring to and Valtteri, obviously, this was maybe a miscommunications between him and some of the guys. And that’s why we reiterated it.”

Bottas radio messages over his power unit mode

To BottasHPP one set position four. Verstappen 1.4 behind.
To BottasVerstappen 1.2.
To BottasHPP one to four.
To BottasGap to Verstappen 1.6.
To BottasDRS has been enabled.
To BottasGap to Lewis 1.3, gap to Verstappen 1.8.
To BottasAs you can see Lewis managing more turn 11.
To BottasGetting close to PU [unclear].
To BottasGap to Lewis 1.1.
To BottasYou have DRS.
To BottasSo Vertappen 2.4 behind.
To BottasHPP one set position four. One is not allowed.
BottasWe have one push now.
To BottasWe do but we agreed not to use it against each other.
BottasI don’t remember that.

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2020 Belgian Grand Prix

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27 comments on “Mercedes clarify Bottas radio message, state drivers are “free to race””

  1. Just use it anyway Valtteri, Hambore would’ve…

    1. The team knows better and no one has been giving equal opportunities to their drivers than Merc now and mclaren earlier.

      Ferrari Redbull and even Renault always foster one golden child, and abuse the no2 driver.
      Poor Albon, second race in succession on subpar strategy.

      1. You think Renault has a favoured driver even now? It would make sense to back Ocon in that case, not Ricciardo who is leaving, but so far the results aren’t showing that.

        Agree that Albon got put on a duff strategy today. Even Max said in the first stint that the medium was not working well, so putting Albon on it for a very long stint to the end made very little sense. It probably only cost him one place in the end, since I don’t think he would have passed Ricciardo, but it’s still a bad call from Redbull.

  2. Was a funny moment of the race… Maybe the communication and perfect harmony of Mercedes team is not so… perfect after all. But honestly, it doesn’t change anything, Valtteri was not up to the level this WE. Total control from Hamilton.

  3. Makes perfect sense. It must be a big help to a team to have two drivers they can trust to race fairly, on equal modes.

  4. My guess is that they ARE free to race, but Mercedes knows Bottas just can’t handle it, or at least he could not today, so why let him push if Hamilton still has pace to spare? It’d make no sense… I remember Lewis said that’s what triggered the tyre failures in Silverstone: he was pushing because Bottas was pushing behind…

    On a good day, maaaaaaaaybe, Bottas IS able to fight for the win. But when Lewis is on it, there’s nothing he can do. He can push all he can to be within DRS but he won’t get there, so why risk it?

    1. @fer-no65 That’s it I think. Sure Bottas could fire up the engine to max, but then Hamilton would do the same and they cancel each other out, with a net effect of more engine and tyre wear, and less latitude if they need power later against other rivals. Saying that, Bottas needs to think outside the box to achieve more. That might include switching settings (but then that’s precisely what set off the Rosberg-Hamilton rivalry).

      In some ways the new ‘one mode’ rule will be good as team mates won’t have this variable to consider as an option.

      1. We already had Rosberg in Bahrain 2014 using I think strat 6, which was a mode they agreed not to use during that time. This was done to overtake Hamilton, and if Bottas used mode one today, it would have been for the same purpose. When Hamilton knew that Rosberg started using that engine mode in Bahrain 2014, he did similar in Spain 2014, when he used an engine mode to keep his position from Rosberg, who was on Medium tyres against Hamilton’s Hards. I am surprised that Bottas did not know about that they need to use similar engine modes during the race to prevent one of them from getting an advantage. Particularly, the engine modes with the highest power available to them. Unless, this is Bottas playing mind games. By the way, correct me if I am wrong in terms of the Bahrain and Spain 2014 situation, but I have read about that story of the engine mode of Rosberg and Hamilton.

        1. @krichelle Yes, that’s what I was referring to when I mentioned what set off the Rosberg-Hamilton rivalry. I’m sure Bottas knows full well the back-history and the present team ‘rules of engagement’. Impossible not to, surely. So you’re right, quite what he wanted by claiming he didn’t know is a question. It sounds like mind games, but I really can’t see Hamilton being bothered in the slightest. More a case of Bottas making an excuse for why he couldn’t chase Hamilton? Bottas is doing an ideal job for Mercedes and Hamilton. Just not for himself. Or us watching. This is the second time he was quicker off the line or into the first corner than Hamilton and yet seemed to back out of any confrontation. Rosberg (the later version anyhow) would have been all over him. Bad for Mercedes. Good for Rosberg (and us).

          1. It makes total sense for Mercedes not to use a higher engine mode at the cost of engine life if all it is doing is swapping driver positions at no net point gain for the team. That is why they can use it against say Max but not each other, the former has a points implication. I expect that rule until the WCC is theirs.
            Hamilton eased off slightly so that Bottas was too close and had to back off right at the point where he would otherwise get the opportunity to take a run and slingshot past Ham, Like Vettel did a couple of years back.

  5. Hamilton is already cruising while Bottas is behind thinking he is faster because he can keep up.

    Then Hamilton increases the pace and Bottas is left in the dust as he already burned his tyres.

    How many times we’ve seen this story already? Bottas could’ve used this extra mode, but so did Hamilton.

    Would not make any differece in the end.

  6. Blaž Štremfelj
    30th August 2020, 18:54

    how come there is no limit on the use of overtake mapping when hamilton is behind bottas?

  7. I feel sad that he didn’t get a final shot of the extra power modes before they are banned, would have been good for his morale to at least keep up with Lewis.

    1. Good for his morale? That he is allowed use a boost whereas Ham isn’t? Because thats the only way Bottas would have kept up with him. And as we see in the middle sector gaps if the tyres were good Ham would have been pulling .5s a lap on Bottas.

      1. How do you know what modes Ham used?

  8. I mean it’s not like you’re finishing 18th. Nothing wrong with silver at all!

  9. Why allow free racing and put at a irrelevant risk the bazillionth victory from the team. What’s the purpose for Mercedes to put so many millions in a team that makes all the efforts to reduce the interest in the race and thus contribute to reducing viewers and brand exposing?

    Mercedes purpose is to sell cars, not win races, this kind of behavior (justified or not) is negative to the grand public. Both cars fighting is a much better image for the brand (“ours cars are so great that only themselves can beat them”), than just two cars cruising in an irrelevant race that most people switched off and the director prefers to broadcast the fight for the 14th place.

    1. The whole point is that

      “ours cars are so great that only themselves can beat them”

      doesn’t really work if you just got beaten by a Red Bull, unless what you meant is “our cars are so great that the only time we get beaten by Red Bull is when we screw up our strategy and waste engine life for no purpose at all”.

    2. Mike Greenough
      30th August 2020, 22:39

      You’ve missed the point here, if Bottas uses this to attack, then Lewis will use it to defend, therefore there is no point either of them using it.

      The team wanted to save it to fight other cars if they needed to and for reliability. They look way dumber if they get beat because they were busy fighting each other, or the cars don’t finish.

  10. I agree with Toto Wolff. Mercedes drivers are not miles ahead of Max, so they need to stay sensible when fighting between themselves!

  11. Seems entirely reasonable. If they have one use each, and one uses it, the other would just use his to defend. So they’d cancel each other out while gaining precisely nothing… and lose an attacking/defending option against another car later in the race.

  12. Joe Pineapples
    30th August 2020, 19:59

    It was pointless Bottas asking for it anyway, when he’d know Hamilton would be allowed it at the same time, nullifying it’s affect.

  13. The only viable option would be (or would have been: now past tense forever!) Mercedes and other teams allowing drivers to use the engine modes as they see fit – wreck the engine to win a race if they want. Of course, a team wouldn’t actually want that, but the drivers might – it would be their calculation if they use up their engine allotment and grid penalties, or get an engine failure, but could finish some races in a better position. With teams controlling engine mode use, this kind of cancellation of any potential difference in usage between team mates was always inevitable.

    1. And do you know how expensive that would be? Who is paying for all these engines? Mercedes can only charge their customers a set amount every year so how much money are Mercedes going to lose if bottas, George Russell, Sergio perez, Lewis Hamilton, lance stroll and williams pay driver #2 are going through 30 engines a year?

      1. @ ads It would be self-limiting because of the grid penalties. OK so drivers in he top teams can quickly make their way through the field, but only up to the top 4-6 places usually. So there would be a strong trade-off and incentive not to burn out the engines. I just prefer any solution that removes decision-making and race management from the teams and transfers it to drivers.

  14. No problems telling your clear number two he can ‘race’ when you know he won’t even be capable of it he tried!

  15. Mark in Florida
    30th August 2020, 21:28

    You agreed already Valterri it’s in your contract. At least Nico made it interesting, Bottas is like a tranquilizer he puts people to sleep with his racecraft. The people that are watching the race that is. Another snoozefest courtesy of F1.

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