Mercedes retrieve Ferrari debris from Bottas's car

Debris cost Bottas up to eight tenths of a second per lap

2020 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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The debris Valtteri Bottas hit and collected on the second lap of the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix cost him as much as eight tenths of a second per lap, according to Mercedes.

Bottas ran over a piece of Sebastian Vettel’s car at Tosa on lap two, following the Ferrari driver’ collision with Kevin Magnussen. A piece lodged in his bargeboard, disrupting the airflow over his car.

The performance loss caused by the damage was so great that Mercedes didn’t believe what their sensors were telling them about the car’s loss of grip, according to trackside operations director Andrew Shovlin.

“We were seeing a big drop in performance,” he said. “But the issue is the scale of the drop in terms of lap time was seven or eight tenths of a seconds. We weren’t really believing the sensors because we were looking at how Valtteri was not pushing particularly hard and able to do reasonable lap times when we needed to build a bit of a gap.

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Imola, 2020
Bottas ran wide as he grappled with his ill-handling car
“It’s very difficult to put an absolute lap time loss on these because they can often affect the car in a quite non-linear way around the circuit or different behaviour in different directions at corners. But early on we couldn’t quite believe how big it was and we didn’t know what it was.”

Mercedes weren’t able to remove the piece until Bottas made his second pit stop, partly because it was so difficult to see.

“When you look at the size of the bit and the fact that it’s red, you can’t believe that we couldn’t see it on the cameras. But it was lodged in, and where it was the black area was visible. And because the whole car’s black there we couldn’t see that.

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“If we’d been able to see where it was we could have possibly done a more effective job of getting it out at the first stop. But it’s unlucky for him.”

Bottas said he saw the piece of debris on the track and chose to avoid hitting it with a tyre, which meant he had to run over it. “He definitely made the right decision to go straight over it,” said Shovlin.

Part of Vettel's Ferrari lodged into Bottas's bargeboard
Part of Vettel’s Ferrari lodged into Bottas’s bargeboard
“Taking that onto a tyre would very likely cause an instant puncture. So that was a good call. But through no fault of his own, it basically held him back for the whole the whole afternoon.”

The loss of performance continued to compromise Bottas after his pit stop. Team mate Lewis Hamilton delayed his first pit stop and pulled out a gap over Bottas by running longer.

He eventually had enough time in hand to make a pit stop and come out ahead. Then the Virtual Safety Car was deployed, which ensured he was able to do so comfortably.

Had that not happened, Shovlin says it was would have been “extremely close” between the pair when Hamilton rejoined the track after his pit stop. “There were times when Lewis just had the gap, but he had the gap by half a second or so.

“The problem is you’re dropping him out on hard tyres that have got a warm-up curve, and that means that they are down by a second or a second and a half. And while he looked like he could build it, we didn’t really want to sort of have him dropping into that fight with Valtteri and Max on cold tyres, if we could actually get the gap.

“So he was sort of getting towards having it and then obviously the VSC came out, which just made it quite easy situation for him to deal with.”

Mercedes retrieve Ferrari debris from Bottas's car
Mercedes retrieved the piece of Vettel’s car…
Mercedes retrieve Ferrari debris from Bottas's car
…when Bottas came in for his second pit stop

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2020 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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23 comments on “Debris cost Bottas up to eight tenths of a second per lap”

  1. Wow that thing is enormous. But what I don’t quite get is how Bottas was able to keep Verstappen at arm’s length and even gap him before his stop. But afterward Verstappen was all almost stumbling over the Mercedes.

    1. The problem was the motor could out drag Max his engine (without DRS) when he hit the sand you see Max almost hitting him then Max followed him dragged by Bottas and Max get a easy overtake with DRS. It’s al the ability to stay in the wake BEFORE you went into a corner otherwise overtaking is to much.

  2. @dmw He may have leaned on the tyres more than expected during the first stint to maintain speed and higher thsn expected wear may have been reported to him. This would then force him to slow down to manage the hard tyre over a probably longer than anticipated second stint to make a one stop work.

    Two green flag pitstops would have been hugely costly time wise (length of pitlane is very long) so a one stop would have been prescribed at all costs I bet.

  3. Imagine how slow he’d be if he had the rest of the Ferrari around him.

    1. The ferrari with Bottas never moved out of his way. Must hold the record for number of blue flags! Bottas was stuck with the lapped Ferrari virtually the whole race!

    2. Yes this was the fastest any part of a Ferrari has been for a year. So many jokes here.

    3. Best comment ever maybe 😂

    4. Yeah, just a little piece of a Ferrari is enough to slow him down.

  4. If they banned all the stupid winglets, wouldn’t happen

  5. If they hadn’t removed it at the second stop could Ferrari have legitimately claimed a podium for the race?

    1. No! As I said earlier, the Ferrari was lapped. Unless it magically teleported from the back to the front of the grid.

      1. You’re correct. It did just sit stationary for a whole lap.

  6. Only Ferrari bits could make a merc that much slower… and ferrari quicker.

    1. LOL.

      If that piece would have come out of Hamilton’s car it would have made Bottas at least 1.5 secs quicker..

  7. One must think that Bottas would have won had he not picked up a 8 tenths per lap penalty. That adds up to a huge gap.

  8. 50 laps at .8 per lap = 40 seconds lost and that is only up to the removal of the slow Ferrari part, still damage after that, so more time lost.

  9. Expectation is a flurry of official letters to the FIA trying to get Mercedes penalized for stealing Ferrari designs and parts.

    1. A listed part even

  10. Some guys have all the bad luck. Bottas couldn’t avoid a piece of debris, Verstappen with a tyre blowout.

    Hamilton had a tyre blowout at Silverstone and was able to win the race. If it happened 200m earlier he loses the races.

    Hamilton’s only had one retirement in the last four years. An extraordinary run of good luck.

    People still bring up Malaysia 2016 as though Hamilton has rotten luck, but even that day he was very lucky that Rosberg couldn’t score maximum points.

    When he made an error at Spain 2016 and lost control of his car, he was lucky to take out Rosberg out of the race as well. If that didn’t happen Rosberg goes on to score 25 points quite comfortably.

    1. And Bottas’ puncture at Silverstone happens at the point in the race where he can’t change tyre and still recover points, or close enough to the end where he can still make the finish like Hamilton, but at the point where absolutely all points are lost, and with it any momentum in the championship fight.

  11. 0.8 per lap x 61 laps = 48.8 seconds
    Would he have been 43 seconds ahead of Hamilton?

    1. Joe Pineapples
      3rd November 2020, 14:12


    2. @mrfill That’s absolute pace. He would have managed the pace to save equipment, and only pulled out the low lap times before the stops, and to match Hamilton’s charge later.

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