Sakhir performance risked making me look a fool, admits Bottas

2020 Sakhir Grand Prix

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Valtteri Bottas admitted his Sakhir GP performance risked making him look “a fool” as he spent much of the race behind team newcomer George Russell.

Having taken pole position for the race, Bottas was passed by his new team mate immediately after the start and ran behind him for the first three-quarters of the race. He began to close on Russell during the second stint, but a pit stop error by the team put both out of contention for victory.

Reflecting on his performance after the race, Bottas said “the people who know” will have realised he drove better than it may have appeared to others.

“[During] the race I just to try and make the most out of it,” he said. “I knew that it’s going to be a long race ahead, so I don’t think about those kind of things.”

“But now thinking about it for sure if you don’t know things, I might have looked like a complete c***, a fool. So that’s not nice. So it was a pretty bad race for me from that side.

“It will be very easy for people to say that the new guy comes in and beats the guy who’s been in the team for years so it is not ideal. But the people who know, they know how the performance is and they know how the end result could have been.”

Max Verstappen’s retirement from the race means Bottas has a strong chance of securing second place in the drivers’ championship at this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. However he said he is more interested in winning races than taking the runner-up spot.

“Second is, of course, better than third. And as a team, I think we deserve to be one and two with the car we have. Obviously it’s not done yet but at least I gained very small points to Max.

“But it’s not really the priority in my mind, I just want to win races. This week it didn’t feel like the team prioritised that thing any way. We just came here and tried to do the best job. So it’s not like as a team they really prioritised me to be second in the championship.”

He is keen to move on to a more conventional track after the unusually short Bahrain Outer circuit.

“It’s a new weekend, obviously it’s going to be more of a normal track instead of a Mickey Mouse track. It will be easier to make some differences so I’m already looking ahead to Abu Dhabi.”

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2020 Sakhir Grand Prix

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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...
Keith Collantine
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91 comments on “Sakhir performance risked making me look a fool, admits Bottas”

  1. It did make him look like a fool, and that’s why Mercedes will keep him for as long as they can, he can’t touch Lewis, he is a bad driver, perfect for 2nd places in the rocketship that is the Merc.

    1. I agree with that first line. But I really don’t get why you would say he is a “bad driver” at all. He still is fast enough on the saturdays to be as close to Hamilton. And he does a solid job of supporting the team to claim the championship.

      1. But he still needs points from the final race to secure 2nd in the WDC. In that car is that a bit poor? Bad driver? No qualifying performance shows that. But race performance is just barely “good enough”

        1. No when you realize red bull have been really close to merc. Almost alway less then half a second slower

          1. Half a second is not close.

          2. Exactly. And getting closer in race by race since Red Bull ARE bringing improvements to the car while Mercedes is probably working a bit on 2021 since the season started and is mostly shifted attention to 2022 already @carlosmedrano.

            And @invisiblekid, I guess I rate Verstappen higher than you do. I think that the combination of Max and the ever (slightly) improving Red Bull do make it hard.

          3. Well said @carlosmedrana, @bascb

            I don’t really understand (well, I see how, by just not actually looking at the facts, but only at the easy non-nuanced truth one likes to see from a glance at them) how one can forget that Verstappen+Red Bull, even if not always strong enough to fight for the win, have almost always been fast enough and clever enough to be a threat for the podium, which means that misfortune, technical issues and/or a bad race always put Mercedes under threat, as has happened to Bottas more than once this season (but Hamilton usually only when others weren’t able to fully profit!).

            Both Verstappen and Bottas have had misfortune and also team/and or some driver mistakes that helped take them out of the fight for WDC, otherwise that would have been closer, even though Red Bull once again started the seaon on the back foot, but even so, close enough for 2nd to be a contest on merit.

          4. Sorry for the typo @carlosmedrano

      2. Yeah, Jarno Trulli was also very good on Saturday…

  2. In my opinion, Bottas has had two terrible Sundays in Bahrain. During the Bahrain GP, his fight-back after his initial puncture was pathetic, with the excuse that he had “too much wing” to be able to pass cars at the back-end of the midfield, apparently. In addition, he must have abused his tyres, because he pitted way too early around lap 20, his new hard tyres having only done 18 laps, negating any tyre advantage he may have had for the rest of the grand prix.

    Last Sunday during the Sakhir grand prix, until the final pit stops he was doing fine-ish (most people would accept that George is an extraordinary talent), but what on earth was he doing dropping from 4th to 8th? His tyres were not that old, and his excuse that his tyres lost some temperature doesn’t wash with me. It’s not like he was mobbed at the restart, he had a few laps to get temperature back into his tyres. To me it looked like he hung his head and cried after Russell overtook him on the outside.

    1. I think in that race he also had some bits of the floor of, and I think a piece of Vettel’s wing stuck in between his bargeboards @adrianmores. But yeah, it is pretty clear that he is not the guy to bet on for a determined fight back through the field or to get life out of the tyres nobody thought they had (rather the opposite).

      I think the tyres actually were that bad to lose the places @adrianmorse. Remember, these were hard tyres, which often have shown to take a lap or 2 to get into a good mode after a normal pitstop, especially on the Mercedes (which seems quite soft on its tyres, to help their long livety). They were relatively old by then. And they had been taken off of the car when he pitted, then sat next to the car for some 10 seconds, further cooling off and were put back on. I think by then the tyres must have been pretty horribly cold for F1 tyres. And they probably couldn’t really be brought back to temperature running in the middle of the pack behind the SC.
      The cars around Bottas who passed him all had softer/newer tyres which are a bit more easy to get the heat in.

      Now, I am sure that had Bottas been in Russel’s position there, we would not have seen that gutsy move, he would have probably been behind his teammate until the team arranged for a pass, or until DRS enabled him to go by.

      1. @bascb he had another piece of Vettel’s wing stuck in his bargeboard? I thought that was only in Imola.

        I’m going to have to disagree with your take on the Sakhir race. First of all, his hard tyres were not that old. He had gone longest of all in his first stint, and pitted on lap 49 or 50. Then he did 13 racing laps on his hards before the safety car, so if they were worn by then, he was doing something wrong.

        Furthermore, the race restart was on lap 70, but it was not until laps later (lap 77 incidentally :-) ) that he lost all those places to Sainz et al. By that time he should really have been able to get temperature in those tyres.

        1. Yeah, it was a far smaller piece this time though @adrianmorse.

          I think the real issue wasn’t with how old the tyres were but rather that they must have cooled down greatly first while waiting for the (slow) pitstop being stacked behind Russel, then when they were taken off and after the on/of fun with the mixed set were take off again.

          We’ve seen that it often takes some 3 laps in normal running (i.e. in clear air) for the Mercedes cars to get hards working from a SC restart or after a pitstop. Since Bottas tyres must have been quite a bit worse off for temperature, I don’t think it is too fancy to believe that Bottas never managed to get them into a solid window anymore, and certainly not in time to do anything to stop the cars from passing him.

          Off course it again does point to one thing that Bottas has been struggling to cope with, especially compared to Hamilton, and now has been upstaged by Russel on as well, and that is his seeming gap of skill of getting the tyres to work consistently for him.

      2. Just to add to my response and to avoid any confusion, I think Bottas is a very good driver. He is fast, which is the most important thing, and on some Sundays he manages to string everything together, and be within a couple of seconds of what Hamilton can do over a race distance. Put many of such weekends together, and have the bad luck swing Hamilton’s way for a change, and he could even mount a championship challenge.

        This year, though, he’s had a lot of imperfect and even poor Sundays, with the last two Bahrain races prime examples, in my opinion.

        1. Yeah, his last 3 races haven’t been much good at all.

        2. Good points @adrianmorse and @bascb nice discussion there; I agree Bottas has some lacklustre races this season, and definitely since the title fight was (virtually) over he seemed to not quite show up in the races, but I do believe in this case @bascb is probably right that the old tyres combined with a SC and that long long pitstop certainly played to all of Bottas weaknesses to make him so featureless when the race restarted.

          I like the guy, he is fast on Saturday, but consistency over the race and/or over a season has not been his strength, nor has controlled aggression to move forward in the races, and that makes him not a great prospect when I look at next years grid.

  3. Bottas was on a downer anyway, lost four WDC in a row. I think the penny has finally dropped that he’ll never beet Hamilton. Then this lad Russell turns up.

  4. If Mercedes are nice enough, then they could say that this was a track whose layout was short, and smaller gaps among laptimes were expected, and that this has been a new track for everyone. If Russell still races in Abu Dhabi, then that could be more representative due to everyone mastering the layout. Remember, Bottas beat Hamilton in 2017 there, meaning Bottas does have pace at that track.

    If Bottas has a poor 2021, I would not mind Mercedes giving the 2nd seat to Russell alongside Hamilton. Question is though, will Mercedes still retain their advantage in 2022….?

    1. As long as George doesn’t have a bad weekend I think he is a certainty for Mercedes in 22. If for no other reason than he will be out of contract and if this weekend past is anything to go by it won’t be just Mercedes wanting him.

  5. To be honest, he didn’t do much wrong but he didn’t do much right either. His initial start was good, but for some reason he lost momentum and got passed by Russell. The second time he got passed by Russell he was on old hards versus fresh softs for Russell, so understandable. However, unlike Russell, Bottas had no standout moments on Sunday.

    1. His start was bad, than he made mistakes out of turn 1 and into turn 2. And then he wasn’t capable of driving the tempo Russell was.

    2. Well said @matthijs. He got shown up more by what Russel showed we / the team could get from their driver than by doing something extra stupid or bad.

    3. @matthijs

      I think your view on Bottas is very fair as well as the comparison to Russell this race. Although Russell’s results have often been good over his career, we can’t really ignore that on average, he’s likely been the worst starter of anyone on the grid. And this was kind of masked by how bad the willimas was, therefore not losing out much.

      Russell lost out to kubica off the line 11 out of 19 races that they both started on the grid, which makes his qualifying statistics a bit meaningless if I’m honest. He was better this year as he could often qualify further up. He lost out to his team mate only 3 times, but still, around half the races over the first lap, he lost out one or two positions. I don’t think the first lap has much to do with the cars ability, and rather how good the driver is at preparing the tyres and the car for the launch. This is an area where I think it will be good for Russell to have another season at williams, as if he continued to have this level of bad starts at a top team, they would be much more costly.

      Not saying this is you at all, but so many are pretty much saying this proves everything about Bottas and Russell. While this race is proof that Russell can and will be capable, it doesn’t yet show consistency. And if he’s been against the Bottas many people are calling “bad”, his drive can’t have been truly outstanding as Bottas’s pace was pretty much the same, if not a bit faster. With Hamilton in the car, I think it is very possibly he would have pulled quite some distance on bottas. I say this, because some (but just few) even now seem to be suggesting Hamilton isn’t that good since Russell has performed that well. Hamilton being as good as he is really makes Bottas look bad. Russell had an incredibly good first race. Bottas made a few mistakes, but after very, very slowly coming into the pits and the tyres beign off for nearly 30 seconds losing heat, then the breaks on fire, I think in his defence, it is understandable that all those around him had a significant advantage. It still would have been 1 – 2 and probably very close had nothing happened, so I just don’t get the hate Bottas gets.

      1. well said, bottas was starting to catch russel but then the safety car happened and all hell broke loose on the merc garage.

      2. Unfair to judge Russell’s starts so far because he usually puts his car further up the grid than it deserves to be, thus having faster cars behind him at the starts.

        1. As commentators such as coulthard mention, and I also did in my post, the launch and first few corners has so little to do with your car’s performance and rather the driver’s preparation. Did kimi have the best car on the grid a few races ago on lap 1? I don’t think so. Magnussen and Stroll have also had some of the best launches of any driver this year, but that doesn’t mean their car must be better than those around. And the opposite is the case for Russell when he instantly loses a place or two of the line.

          I fully understand it will be hard not to lose them later and don’t blame him for that at all. His quali pace is brilliant. But if you look back and rewatch his starts against Kubica when he was almost always 19th, this unfortunately showed to me that it wasn’t really to do with having quicker cars around him. He often dropped back behind kubica more than a cars length soon after the launch, so i do think that is still quite often a problem of his and has sort of continued this year, though not quite as often. And as I said, being higher up on the grid and having these starts would be more costly.

          Though saying that, I think he would recover well. But i do think his starts have been his biggest weakness as he probably has had getting on for a third of his f1 career launches initially undoing his grid position. I don’t think any other driver has done this over the past 2 years. I think the williams being as bad as it was last year really masked that it was a problem for him from many others point of view as he basically had nothing to lose. Bottas seems to be the one that gets noted for his bad starts when he’s had 4 this year, when Russel has had more than that this year alone and was much worse still last year.

          I myself think Russell will benefit a lot from another season at williams and by then will be more ready than he would be now to go to Mercedes and do a solid consistent job. And just to make it clear, I do think he is showing that he will be better than Bottas in time ( i say this because one race doesn’t 100% prove the long run, even if he wasn’t prepared) , I’m just not convinced he’s quite a complete top driver yet, but that is understandable.

          His end results I still would expect will be solid, but based on the past couple of seasons, I think his starts would look a lot worse higher up. Does anyone remember him falling right to the back the race before last? They probably would more if he was at Mercedes. I don’t like trying to fine fault with him, but he has done this so often that I think I can see why he should have another season to improve things and Bottas is more than good enough to have another. The past 2 seasons, he’s on target for the team to get the best possible result in all areas, 1 – 2 for WDC and helping win the WCC. Not sure why some are so desperate to kick him out which many are almost entirely influenced by this one race result.

      3. Yeah, the fact that Russel showed he has the potential to be a winner with his great drive, does not mean that we should take it that the job was easy, nor that Bottas might not have been able to catch up and who knows even take the fight to Russel in the last 20 laps (or had at least been able to get up to the back of Russel and finish within a few seconds) @thegianthogweed.

        And it clearly doesn’t tell us how Hamilton would have managed. My guess would be that Lewis would have been that same 8 seconds ahead as Russel was after both pitstops (he might have eked out another few laps on the mediums first though), would have let Bottas get back to him a bit before upping the pace to keep it at a comfortable 3-4 seconds. With both Mercedes cars lapping more or less all but the top 8 of the field or so. Bottas would probably have dropped back down to about 6 seconds by the flag, since there was no reason to push at that stage.

  6. “Mickey Mouse track”

    That was unnecessary, especially when you haven’t been able to produce anything decent this time, so don’t blame the track.

    1. @spoutnik Originally a Mickey Mouse track was similar to a twisty track with few straights and a lot of corners. So if any, the Sakhir track was far from a Mickey Mouse track. Unlike sector 1 and 3 of the Abu Dhabi circuit btw…

    2. @spoutnik Most drivers called it a Mickey Mouse track. They call it that when it compares to a carting track.

    3. @matthijs @f1osaurus Thanks for explaining! It looked like a disregard, my bad :)

  7. isaac (@invincibleisaac)
    8th December 2020, 8:59

    Does anyone know what caused Russel’s late race puncture?
    Can’t help but notice that Mercedes have had quite a lot of punctures this year:
    – Silverstone (Ham)
    – Silverstone (Bot)
    – Spa (Bot in Practice)
    – Bahrain (Bot)
    – Sakhir (Rus)

    I wonder why they have had so many issues

    1. @invincibleisaac I think it was because of the debris of Aitken’s front wing. It must have been right on the racing line. I think it could have been anybody with a puncture, unfortunately it was Russell.

      1. isaac (@invincibleisaac)
        8th December 2020, 9:15

        Quite ironic how it was Russel’s replacement that effectively cost him the win then. But surely all of the debris should have been cleared during the Safety Car period, as he got the puncture after the Safety Car came in?! Had Hamilton been racing then I doubt RUS would have repeated Aitken’s mistake in the Williams – there would have been no safety car, and HAM would have had a controlled lights-to-flag win. Instead we got this exciting development.

    2. Mercedes said it was a double edged sword, that Russell lost position due to pit error and then picked up the puncture off the racing line due to making up places overtaking.

    3. Probably because they are the first cars to come around again after some dust up in the back of the field? In seriousness, generally, they will use the tires harder than anyone else because they are braking harder, carrying more apex speed, and have more DF. That may make them more marginal for tire failures than others.

  8. isaac (@invincibleisaac)
    8th December 2020, 9:15

    Quite ironic how it was Russel’s replacement that effectively cost him the win then. But surely all of the debris should have been cleared during the Safety Car period, as he got the puncture after the Safety Car came in?! Had Hamilton been racing then I doubt RUS would have repeated Aitken’s mistake in the Williams – there would have been no safety car, and HAM would have had a controlled lights-to-flag win. Instead we got this exciting development.

  9. He’s just so middle of the road. I don’t blame him, that’s who he is, very nice guy, etc. but he botched the start, made a mistake later with Russell behind (regardless of the tyres, he ran wide and didn’t put up a fight). He’s quick, but just so tame in wheel to wheel racing. We’ve seen it for 4 years now, things aren’t going to change in 2021. He’s a solid driver, but that’s it. All that to whom it may concern stuff just looks a bit silly. He’s a great guy, just uninspiring.

  10. I think people come down too hard on Bottas who is a very decent human being.
    His only challenge is he is responding to external pressure, all those armchair experts who love to sow seeds of discord and enjoy endless strife.
    Yes Russel performed wonderfully, but one Swallow doesn’t make a……( besides it’s just one swallow, who knows a goose by come next.)
    Bottas needs to exhale and drive to his own rhythm.

    1. It’s not really fair to (essentially) say “1 good race does not make Russel”, yet completely ignore the fact that Bottas has CONSISTENTLY failed to deliver at Hamilton’s level.

      Look at the end of season results and it was actually 2017, his first year at the team, where he appeared to peak:

      2017 – 3rd in WDC, 58 points down from Lewis, 3 wins (but with much more competition from Ferrari)
      2018 -5th in WDC, 161 points down from Lewis, 0 wins
      2019 -2nd in WDC, 97 points down from Lewis, 4 wins
      2020 – 2nd in WDC, 127 points down from Lewis, 2 wins (and Lewis missed the last race)

      Perez is closer to Bottas in points than Bottas is to Lewis. Max would have him well in 3rd if he didn’t have 5 retirements under his belt – how much longer can people keep defending him?

      1. isaac (@invincibleisaac)
        8th December 2020, 11:39

        @joeypropane – Although it’s not just a case of getting the “better” driver in the car. Yes, I would expect Russel to be faster than Bottas and give Hamilton a proper challenge at Mercedes if he is given the chance, but that may not be what Mercedes want.

        Bottas isn’t an exceptional driver, but is able to consistently bring home solid points and not rock the boat. If you look at the facts – Mercedes have won both the drivers and constructors championships every year since BOT has joined the team – you can’t get much better than that. It seems quite clear that Lewis is the faster driver and favourite to win those titles, and therefore BOT will do enough to bag home 2nd place finishes and contribute to the constructors championship, whilst not creating an in-team civil war like the HAM-ROS rivalry.

        If we put RUS in that Mercedes as early as next year – I would expect him to be quicker than Bottas and challenge HAM for the title, but do Mercedes really want their drivers taking points off each other if there is somehow a challenge from another team next year, like Red Bull?

        2 top dogs in a team would cause fireworks … personally I’d love to see it! For the record, I do rate Valterri very highly however I do believe RUS is the real deal and would love to see him challenge Hamilton for the title in a Mercedes as early as next season. I believe he would learn a lot from Lewis, who would bring his real A-game, as he has shown that he relishes a real challenge when the stakes are high. It makes me think of Prost vs Senna – the established world champion up against the new young gun with a lot to prove. I think it would be great for F1 but I just don’t see Mercedes going against Bottas’ 2021 contract. Hopefully in 2022 though.

        1. Bottas is basically this decades DC. Consistently in a quick car, consistently talking up going for a title and consistently find them selves short of the ‘right stuff’. On a day when Chuck Yeager finally flew off the edge of the sky, it is that indefinable quality that separates the Chucks from the Charlies

        2. I don’t think it HAS to be like that, though – Russel isn’t like Ricciardo going in against Max, or Leclerc going into Ferrari with a very clear motive (and the support). George is a smart lad, he’ll happily take a year next to Lewis as a clear no.2, I reckon. He’ll learn huge amounts, get the occasional win when Lewis run into trouble and be fully prepared and integrated to lead the team against Max and Charles when Lewis wraps up with all his records.

          I think the biggest issue here is that everyone knows Mercedes only keep extending Bottas’ contract because of the reasons you stated – even Valtteri must know by now, it’ll be genuinely quite sad if he didn’t – so why not carry on that status quo, but give the future talent as much time to prepare and learn directly from the best in the process??

    2. No one is saying that he is a bad person. He just doesn’t deserve the seat for 2021 in my eyes.

    3. Cowardly Anonymous Coward
      8th December 2020, 11:21

      I’m willing to bet that none of Bottas’ critics have ever driven a GP car. It’s just an easy mental step to take from “I know how to drive a car” to “a GP car is just a car” to “I am now an expert on the subject of driving a GP car”.

      1. Bottas’ critics, however, do know how to compare him to others who do know how to drive an F1 car.

      2. Hahaha, what?? There is literally HUNDREDS of metrics of data to compare 1 driver to another without ever sitting in the drivers seat of a motor vehicle.

    4. Don’t get me wrong. Bottas is a really nice guy. A gentleman in racer’s attire.. but he’s just not a great enough racer to be in the most coveted seat on the grid.

      F1 viewers saw him trailing a newbie in the same car and this is the best he could come up with –

      Reflecting on his performance after the race, Bottas said “the people who know” will have realised he drove better than it may have appeared to others.

      He must be low on confidence after racing Hamilton for 4 seasons in a row. I honestly feel it would be best for him to leave for another team and race against someone who could boost his confidence.

      1. Yup, he should do a Massa and stick around in a lower team. Give them info from Mercedes processes and race against a pay driver so that he can go to another series showing good comparative results on his way out.

    5. Maybe Bottas being a nice guy is the “problem”. After his second pit stop I expected to hear him questioning the team as to why he was so much further behind Russell and there was nothing. Hamilton would have been angrily demanding to know what happened and then he’d do all he could to close the gap, and I think that’s part of Bottas’ issue, he’s too mild.
      I like Bottas but I think he’ll always wear the red, gold and green tights to his teammates black cowl and cape.

      1. Of course you are right. But the reason he was so far behind was 1. he was losing time to Russell before the first stop (he has no pre-stop Hammertime mode) and 2. Russell massively “undercut” him by starting strong on the new tires. Hamilton would not have let Russell run away like that. Even Rosberg rarely if ever just left Hamilton for dead in the first stint, if he managed to get ahead. Maybe Russell is a genius and Bottas in fact was wringing the neck of his car. But Bottas has a history of just fading away after dropping behind Hamilton so this was kind of typical.

      2. Hamilton would have been angrily demanding to know what happened

        And then the comments here would be full of people labelling him a whiner etc etc

  11. I read nothing but excuses and self justification but everyone saw what happened. Don’t take us for fools Valterri, you did loose that race to George no matter how you put it. You’ve secured your seat though by proving you’re not going to be a treath to Lewis.

  12. Don’t worry, Valtteri, we know you’re not a fool… but you sure are/will be a great wingman to Lewis or George.

  13. By definition a journeyman is not a bad driver. There are no bad drivers in F1, but there are the top rated and those close to them, and then the journeyman. Bottas belongs in the last group.
    As far as charisma goes, however, Bottas is way ahead of a tiny group that has absolutely none whatsoever. And sadly, no charisma = no fans.

    1. Well a real journey man was paid by the work he did.

  14. It’s been kind of interesting these past days observing this debate and all those so willing to jump on the “it’s the car” bandwagon to Lewis Hamilton’s detriment.

    What’s being overlooked I think is the part Lewis played in making the car so good. What part does he play in motivating all those guys to put in that extra effort to find those last tenths ?? It’s the same as Michael did at Ferrari or Senna with Honda / McLaren and I could give plenty of examples of it working the other way, under performing drivers demotivating a team (Alonso, Mansell ??).

    The Merc guys and gals know that if they give Lewis a winning car he will do the business.

    Lewis is an all time great, George might well be and we know that Bottas isn’t.

    But there is a lot more to leading an F1 team than just turning up and driving.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      8th December 2020, 13:41

      Indeed and this race was the perfect example of that. Mercedes went from a guaranteed p1-2 to p8-9 in a matter of seconds. Imagine the toll of not having Lewis or Toto for a whole season. If Toto asks for a raise, you let him put the amount he wants on his paycheck. Ditto for Lewis.

      Look at the absolute mess that Ferrari is in with Leclerc and Binotto. You can argue that any salary over zero is too much for both those guys. The moment they marginalized Vettel they went downhill like a F14 Tomcat from Top Gun…

  15. The veils been pulled back a bit hasn’t it. Way too easy to make generalisations on one race or we may as well just say Lewis runs that team as well as drives for it. Vettel looked poor and George looked very strong.

    As for people saying case proved for George then good for them, I’d need some longer runs of strong performance before hailing him as the next big thing. It looks very very encouraging, the move on Bottas was brave and millimetre perfect on a bumpy part of the track. Bottas looks sore, is acting sore and theres only way that kind of attitude ends up.

    But what a great end to a season we are having, plenty of intrigue and no little anticipation of what may happen when Lewis does finally hang up his gloves

  16. Also note that in 2020 we had less races and given HAM’s absence from at least one from them, makes you wonder how big the difference would have actually been. He had a couple of misfortunes but all in all he’s been beaten hard by Lewis this season.

    In all probability VB won’t be in a Merc in 2022, he seems to know it deep inside him.

    With so many young talents around, his chances are actually slim to even remain on the grid beyond 2021.

  17. Bottas race wasn’t that bad, he just lost to his teammate at the start.

    I started the week wondering if Hamilton seat would be safe if Russell did a great job. But I’ve concluded now that Hamilton and Bottas’ seats are safe. I think Mercedes want one more year of the Lewis Hamilton show.

    They know the car is good enough. They know Hamilton is still good enough. And they know that Bottas is better than any other driver they could put in that role. Bottas’ attitude, his ability to keep racing despite being beaten, is what makes him valuable.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      8th December 2020, 13:17

      @slotopen so any time a driver is beaten at the start, it’s game over? I don’t think the start mattered, I think Russell would have caught up and overtaken Bottas in any scenario there. I actually believe that if Russell had spun and been last by Lap 1, he would have caught up with Bottas and beaten him. Bottas had zero fight this weekend and if he doesn’t want to fight and just wants to drive leisurely for 60 laps, he’s in the wrong profession. He would make a heck of a security chauffeur where they’d need him to drive really fast and safely on occasions or a Hollywood stunt drive but as of Sunday he’s no longer a F1 racer. To make the claim that he’s a racer, is comical at this point.

      I don’t think he’s going to be able to look Toto in the eye ever again – to paraphrase Toto, what a colossal disappointment!

      1. @freelittlebirds

        Bottas beats Hamilton sometimes. He got beat by his teammate, so? That is kind of the point. Bottas’ job isn’t to be Verstappen or Hamilton. He normally collects what points are available, and doesn’t crash into his teammate.

        He isn’t like Albon, struggling to put the car where it belongs.

        Bottas isn’t a failure. He is an F1 driver with a multi-million dollar contract. He drives for the best team. He is an important part of that team, and is clearly the best #2 driver on the grid.

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          8th December 2020, 15:26

          @slotopen Very few drivers in F1 are complete failures and certainly not one who’s driving for Mercedes. True, Bottas has had in many ways the most difficult seat in F1 racing alongside Lewis and, yes, he can push in qualifying but, in all honesty, Lewis is in his own world in terms of race pace.

          But the way he yielded and his own complacency of remaining in P2 and staying there until the end of the race shows that he doesn’t have the fighting spirit. This interview reinforces that sentiment as he’s throwing excuses left and right and trying to talk about people who are understanding.

          We were expecting a battle and this ended up being a thrashing with Russell stealing the show from the first lap to the last lap. In fact, Russell shone so bright that he might have beaten Perez as the Driver of the Weekend who came from last to win the race in one of the most sensational and emotional drives in F1 of all time.

          This was an opportunity for Bottas to assert beyond reasonable doubt to whom it may concern, that he deserves his seat on racing chops, not because he’s an extremely solid point collector, arguably one of the best in F1 in the paddock right now.

          The combination of Hamilton and Bottas is probably better in terms of points than the combination of Hamilton and Russell or whatever combination you want to have there.

          You have to understand, I have defended Bottas staunchly but I feel so let down over the weekend and I’ve no doubt that Toto feels the same way and perhaps even Lewis as he respects Valtteri quite a bit.

  18. It did make him look a fool. To be honest, years now of giving literally everything he has and constantly being pipped by small margins – giving his absolute best and never being quite good enough must be quite soul destroying. Consciously he will keep fighting but I suspect subconsciously there’s part of him that has given up, or just accepted that while good – he’s just not as good as his teammate. I think psychologically he’s toast, and Russell’s performance guaranteed that next year is his last at Mercedes.

    He did not appear to have the hunger or drive, or *need* that Russell had. There’s always a good reason why Bottas appears to underperform, and while on his day he’s very strong the distance between those days has grown awfully large. I genuinely like the guy and I’d love to see him succeed but I’m not sure he’s got that in him anymore.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      8th December 2020, 13:34

      @rocketpanda you’re right – I think that psychologically he can no longer compete with anyone. That’s the only explanation of what we witnessed. I just feel totally betrayed by Bottas as I’m sure Toto does. One driver was a hero this weekend, the other a zero.

  19. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    8th December 2020, 13:09

    I have defended Bottas many times over the years here stating that he scores almost the same points as a percentage as Nico Rosberg did, except in 2016. However, the way he raced against Russell was unacceptable. There was no fight, there was no fight at the end but what bugged me the most was that there was no fight in the middle for 60 laps. Bottas in his interview stated that things were going well after the start. No, they weren’t. Things were as bad as Grosjean’s crash – a rookie was ahead of you and you couldn’t catch him. P2 wasn’t an option this weekend. You cannot let him overtake you and then not catch up and try to overtake him.

    I’m sorry Bottas but that was the worst drive of all time. I’m glad that Mercedes put you on the used tyres – you have to grab your chance when it comes to you. He’s just had it too easy in F1. He should have languished in the present Williams or HRT for 2-3 years to appreciate the Williams and Mercedes he has driven.

    Bottas 3.0? More like Bottas 0.0

    1. You seem pretty oblivious that Bottas was catching Russell in the 2nd stint, and he could have dropped back for the same reason your favourite driver does – to try and increase his chances near the end rather than running up too close early on.

      If this drive was Bottas’s worst drive of all time, with just a few mistakes and basically the same or slightly better pace than Russell, then you can in no sense say Russell was good at all.

      Russell was excellent, Bottas had a slightly worse start, but until the chaos in the pits, the difference between them was small. Bottas showed today that this time out (can’t prove this in other races every time) he wasn’t great, and russell was, especially considering the circumstances. Saying this is Bottas’s worst drive of all time is ridiculous.

      All this Bottas and his numbers 2.0, 3.0 is what forums and the like are making up and it spreads like an infection. He doesn’t need to match up to these performance numbers, he isn’t making any claims about this.

      Brundle commented at the time about Bottas’s pace looking good in the 2nd stint. We don’t know, but it could well have been possible that that gap would keep closing, and Bottas may have even had a chance to get by. Unlikely, but we just don’t know. This weekend was so chaotic that we can’t really come to any conclusions. Bottas can sometimes beat Hamilton, and we can base that over more than one weekend. Russell also has crashed during the safety car and been nearly matched by Lafiti in britain both times, as well as messing up in Russia. One race really doesn’t prove much. It just shows Russell can be very fast and that Bottas isn’t always perfect – but not bad at all for a number 2!

      1. @thegianthogweed

        but not bad at all for a number 2!

        No, but Mercedes need a replacement number 1 some time in the next 1-3 years. Unless they just nab Verstappen off Red Bull. Russell (but not Bottas) so far is still on track as a candidate for lead driver. But I agree they need to see more of him to know. Hamilton’s rookie year at McLaren was enough to establish himself. Likewise Leclerc at Ferrari and Verstappen at Red Bull. At some point – and soon – Mercedes need to give Russell that chance too.

      2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        8th December 2020, 14:56

        @thegianthogweed the difference in our statements is in our perspectives.

        but not bad at all for a number 2!

        I never saw Bottas as a number 2 up until this weekend – now from that perspective, he should be happy with his performance this weekend! After all, he finished P8 and Russell finished P9 – he crushed Russell in terms of points scoring 4 vs a measly 2.

        Once you demote Bottas to number 2, then the race is acceptable.

  20. Bottas is no different to the vast majority of pretty good F1 drivers. He can snatch a pole, win, and very occasionally a championship off the F1 GOATS, be that MS, Ham, and a handful of others. As a good No2 he has in the past been able to put enough pressure on his teammate to stop him coasting to his next championship. Something that sadly seems to be lacking in the second half of this season.

    Unlike most F1 drivers though he has had the opportunity, been paid very well for the privilege, and has delivered most of the time. But time to move on; and if George delivers this weekend, to make way for him. Fan wise it would be great if that happened now; but realistically 22 seems to be the sensible option. Although with George being out of contract at the end of 21;Toto may find himself in a bidding war for his services. I’m sure this weekends performance added a few million to George’s price tag, and that may increase if he has another blinder this weekend.

    1. Toto may find himself in a bidding war for his services

      Well, yes. And tbh I hope so. Or more precisely, I hope Russell can sign to the best team possible in 2022. Whether that’s Mercedes or not. With all due respect to Bottas, fans don’t want to see safe and steady. They want drivers who can add excitement to the racing. He really should be there at Mercedes next year already. Too late.

  21. Bottas’s performance didn’t risk making him look a fool. That’s kind of harsh on himself. He sounds very downcast but seems to be salvaging some pride from how he was closing in on Russell before the SC incident and the ‘data’ Mercedes have on their relative race speed. In terms of pace they did look close all weekend. But their are two problems for him. First the obvious: Russell was matching Bottas – who has years of experience at the team – on pace within a couple of days notice in a car not built for him, in which he was barely able to fit, the controls too small, with fairly unfamiliar technologies and instrumentation, programs (which he was correcting throughout the race), car balance, and so on. Second: he did what Bottas has so often failed to do, show determined and skill racing past rivals on track. Including himself. Bottas does most things well: fast, qualifies up front, professional and fair on track. But he lacks sufficient impetus and tenacity to fight for wins. In one race Russell showed that in abundance – and without overdriving (either pushing the car too much or other drivers). Which is quite exceptional for a young driver thrown into a top team. By contrast, VB had another poor start, slow enough to allow GR to escape from the pack, and dropped back a lot in the first stint, the gap increasing to as much as 8 seconds after the first stop. That was before any issues.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      8th December 2020, 15:11

      But [Bottas] he lacks sufficient impetus and tenacity to fight for wins. In one race Russell showed that in abundance – and without overdriving

      Once this statement is made about any F1 driver and it holds true to any extent, they do NOT belong in F1.

      There is nothing to salvage here – Bottas would do well to look inward and next week should be racing next week as if it’s his last race. That’s how you play soccer because there’s always someone on the bench to replace you.

      If I were Bottas, I would have come out of my car and run straight into the wall at top speed with my head – did he at least do that? I would have respected him if he had done that! These excuses of mickey mouse tracks and circumstances are the tools of the incompetent.

      Look at Verstappen – he was kicking the barriers and he wasn’t even beaten by his teammate. He thought he had lost a victory and he actually did lose a victory… He probably would have lasered Albon, like Homelander, if he had beaten him:-)

      1. @freelittlebirds I think Bottas is well worth his place in Formula 1, it’s just he’s against an all-time great in Hamilton, and a big talent in Russell, already marked down by many as a future world champion (alongside Max and Charles Leclerc). Russell kind of reminds me of Danny Ricciardo – someone really affable off-track who can be ruthlessly efficient on track without being blatantly over-aggressive.

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          8th December 2020, 18:16

          @david-br I agree with you. However, the past season we’ve witnessed a very docile Bottas on track. The only place a F1 driver needs to show their fire is in wheel-to-wheel racing. There has to be a point where Bottas says I’ve just had enough and needs to bring out the Kevin Magnussen or Fernando Alonso in him.

          He needs to get his gloves out. I recommend he takes boxing or some form of martial art and gets a decent beating by a world champion. I want to see some emotion out of him.

    2. Generally agree and well said. But I would note that Russell is not a rookie in F1. Also, he’s been in that Mercedes before. He was not just parachuted in from nowhere for that seat. He’s the understudy.

      As for Bottas, he made a lot of consequential driving mistakes, especially at the start and restarts. Russell didn’t make any. He made a major mess of the start and first few corners and immediately put himself in a position to have to run down the same car on a track where you basically have the throttle pinned 75 percent of the time.

      Also, I think generally people overlook that this track basically has 5 corners—there is not as much importance here on set up and driving, understanding the car, managing the diff settings, etc. It’s a “mickey mouse track.” The challenges of this track were when to slam on the brakes for T1/4/9/10, and the tricky curving braking section for 7-8. It was in a way a perfect track for Russell to start off in a front running car. Imagine the pile of throttle traces and diff map options he would be looking at in Suzuka or the like. I’m not saying he didn’t do a brilliant job. But it didn’t favor Bottas’ intimate knowledge of the car.

      1. @dmw Actually I think the track favoured Bottas! If Russell is a more natural driver, which I think he is, then more corners and variability will ultimately favour him as he gets a better balance and car angle into and out of them. Plus Bottas had one huge advantage to which you alluded: turn 1. Russell clearly didn’t have the same confidence with the car and brakes as Bottas did to brake as late and consistently lost time relative to Bottas on that corner, right at the beginning of the lap. Elsewhere he was equal or quicker. True, though, that Russell would have even more to work out at a more complex circuit like Suzuka.

  22. I think that even if Bottas was going to be the winner the gap between him and a guy that just jumped in the cockpit in the last week was too small. I am sorry for Valtteri but he has no excuses. I don’t think it’s worth to even start a serious indepth technical analysis (tyres, start etc.) because it is all so obvious. Russel jumps in the car for the first time and give him hard time, winner or non winner that’s the only relevant thing. Everything else is a detail. My opinion.

  23. Mercedes don’t employ Valtteri to drive on one track, especially an “easy” track, they employ him to drive on all the tracks used this season. They employ him in part to push his team mate and to take points from him if he isn’t performing. They don’t employ him to get times deleted when he’s driving around a track, as happened in some of the Practice sessions at this GP, they employ him to stay on the track and to post good times. Yes, he’d probably have looked a bit stupid being beaten by George, but he was the expert driver that day, not George.

  24. I’ve always been critical with him but I think it’s unfair to say he’s lacking fighting spirit or determination.
    Bottas just had two terrible races when pretty much everything that could go wrong went wrong.
    He was lost from day one and never recovered. Than he found himself in a situation in which he could only loose when the talented Mr. Russell was put in the sister car.
    He didn’t handle the pressure well but I’d like to see an other comparison between the two on a weekend where Bottas is back on form.

  25. It’s like Brundle says: If Bottas didn’t have bad luck, he’d have no luck at all

    Theoretically, the luck evens out so he’s due a lot, but I doubt it. Some people just seem to have picked the wrong number in life. It seems to be the same with Hulkenberg.

    Anyway, at least he improves year on year. But as Schumacher said of his brother Ralf: He has talent, but maybe not time to develop it.

    1. I don’t think Bottas’s luck as been worse than most drivers on the grid. For instance, he is yet to have the kind of bad luck that lost Hamilton the chamoionship in the 2016 season – over 7 engine related issues that consigned him to the middle or back of the grid, inability to take part in 3 qualifying sessions, and also DNF.

      So far, Bottas’s bad luck seems to revolve around his inability to stop running over debris, insects hitting his visor, bad starts, and various mistakes. More so, i am yet to see any of this so called “bad luck” ARGUABLY cost him a race win. Even in Azerbaijan 2018 where he lost a race win due to running over debris, he was only in the lead by virtue of the good luck of an opportune safety car.

      1. @kbdavies Either you haven’t watched the races this year or it’s some sort of bizarre put-down, but then it’s all revealed when you bring Hamilton into it

        1. Maybe you cannot remember the races you watched. Of course, you are welcome to put the examples that contradict what i claimed here. That should easily solve the issue, shouldnt it?

  26. Just throwing it out there but the “those that know” hints at the possibility that Bottas had a slightly different engine mode that the other car.

    I know that teams have to set a mode and are unable to change it but is there any ruling that says both cars have to have exactly the same mode set?

    It might have been that, given PU’s are nearing end of life, they decided to give Russel a little bit more, at risk of the PU, to make up for his inexperience in the car, whilst giving Bottas a slightly safer, but slower, mode setting.

    That could of course be because Hamilton has been kinder to his PU than Bottas, but it does kind of explain a few things.

    Bottas is not the sort of person who would complain directly about that but would be more likely to couch his statement a bit like he has.

    I’m not saying it was unfair, just floating the possibility that they gave Russel every advantage they could to enable him to be a front runner for the experience.

  27. He’s the new Barrichello. That is it.

  28. Go home, Bottas. You are a disgrace.
    Nice, but useless.

  29. I bet any one of us could beat Bottas in a Mercedes. Not champion material.

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