Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Bahrain International Circuit, 2021

Bottas ‘tried so many set-up options I lost count’ as Mercedes race to catch Red Bull

2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Valtteri Bottas has been hard at work in the Mercedes simulator since the Bahrain Grand Prix trying to unlock more performance from their car.

The world champions were almost four-tenths of a second slower than Red Bull in qualifying for the season-opening race. As all teams face new restrictions on development this year, Mercedes are seeking improvements with the set-up of their W12 to close the gap to their rivals.

“I went between the races to Brackley, to the simulator, tried to work on the set-up, trying to find answers, trying to achieve as much as I can really and unlock the performance,” said Bottas. “I lost count of how many set-up items we tried in the simulator.”
Bottas’ work has yielded some useful gains ahead of the second round of the championship this weekend. “Coming here I think we have a good toolbox we have to choose from,” he said.

“But for sure it’s not like a couple of years ago where you could go all the time and a few days in a row, et cetera. Within the restrictions, within the situation, we’re trying to make the most out of it.

“It’s the same for the team, we are really restricted on the development time so efficiency and planning is really the key.”

Despite the restrictions, Bottas is optimistic the team can reduce their deficit to Red Bull.

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“This year I think the rate of development if we compare to last year or especially two or three years back, as a fact it’s going to be less,” he said in response to a question from RaceFans. “Less time in the wind tunnel, less time for the engines in the dyno, everything. So things are much more based on simulations.

“I still believe we can catch them. I believe from the feeling that I have in the car that there’s more to unlock from it if we can get the balance right.

“If we can get the car a bit more drive-able, the through-corner balance to be better, I think really understanding and fine-tuning the set-up, already there’s still more to come.”

This year’s calendar is the longest F1 has ever held, giving Mercedes more time to catch up. “It’s 23 races, it’s a long time to learn about the package and to develop it even with the restrictions,” said Bottas. “It means we need to be more efficient than the other teams.

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[/CBC][CBC show="y" country="uk"][/CBC]“We know that Red Bull are normally good on in-season development. We need to try and out-pace them one way or another. But I fully believe in it seeing the motivation the team has.”

After a close fight between the two teams in Bahrain, Bottas doubts either dominate the season.

“I think dominating a grand prix this year will be difficult seeing the starting point but you never know,” he said. “[But] we’ve only seen the cars in one track and we’ve see quite big swings in performance track to track.

“You never know, but I can’t see anyone really dominating this year.”

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[/CBC][CBC show="y" country="uk"]

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2021 Emilia-Romagna 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
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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17 comments on “Bottas ‘tried so many set-up options I lost count’ as Mercedes race to catch Red Bull”

  1. Bottas seems to suggest there are restrictions on the simulator time. Is it true?

    1. @rockgod Yeah, I thought the same, I was under the impression that simulators were one of the few things still unrestricted, unless he’s referring to the pandemic limiting the amount that can be done? But that doesn’t seem like it should be an issue.

      1. @rockgod @bernasaurus The reference is about getting to the factory where the simulator is.

  2. It was unique to see when Russell jumped in the car and found a working setup straight away while Bottas was struggling big time. Either he is so locked in to a certain style that still doesn’t fit the car, unable to adapt, or his side of the garage is just not on the level.

    1. To be fair to Valtteri, George jumped into Lewis’ car, starting with a baseline setup from his previous data. It may not have been the most comfortable fit but it was still the best car out there. Over the years, the only teammates of Hamilton’s that didn’t periodically have to rely on using his setup (some more often than others) was Alonso, who’s famous for being able to drive around any setup issues, as well as for leaving all base setup duties to Massa while they were teammates @ Ferrari (Alonso always gave Felipe the credit for getting the balance sorted out long before he even got in the car), & now Bottas. Lewis has always had a knack for getting the car’s balance dialed in and we already know how strong a platform the Mercedes was to begin with. George has driven the Mercedes sim as well & so wouldn’t have been starting completely from square one. So far it seems that Bottas has been going his own way on setup & I can’t say it hasn’t been working for him. By the numbers, he’s been closer on average to Lewis on a Saturday than Rosberg was. Where Valtteri seems to lose out the most is when the situation calls for more adaptability. Lewis has been way better at dealing with the variables. Not trying to diminish Russel’s performance by any means though, because it was super impressive regardless. And I do think he’s shown more promise than Bottas has… I’d be hard pressed not to put George in the car if I was in charge @ Mercedes…

      1. This is not about Hamilton.

        1. And your point is? I mentioned George, Valtteri, Alonso, Massa, Rosberg & Lewis, yet you’re bellyaching just at the mention of Lewis. smh… seems he really does reside in some of your heads full time. I’d hate to be you…

          1. True, your comment was talking mainly about russel, not hamilton.

          2. The ‘residing in the head full time’ -comment is fun coming from someone who has to twist and alter anything to make it a praise for your man. Typical double-speak this.

          3. @balue No twisting or alterations needed: I just told it like it is. The funny thing is that on a comment that focused more on complimenting George while attempting to give valid excuses for (and due credit to) Valtteri, all you saw was “Lewis Hamilton” & that was enough to get you twisted. Lol!

    2. My thoughts at the time as well. Russell jumped in a car unfit for his size, wearing smaller size shoes, and away from any Mercedes simulator for a long time.

      And yet he would win the race without that rear tyre call.

      I guess we’ll never know how much performance comes from both Mercedes drivers since the car was so superior. But that drive from Russell says a lot.

    3. i believe he is talking about finding the setup for the car that beats redbull… and this is where i believe merc are keeping bottas.. to do the grunt work… bottas is in sim, while ham is away doing other things (not that he does not do sim work)… more data to work with means better outcome.. im pretty sure this is a team activity that helps with setting the car up for the season

      1. I took it to mean for himself. Why would he do work for his team mate?

        1. Because his job is to make the car go faster. If they get a setup that allows them to get faster in the car it will benefit both @balue

          1. @bascb But then the story would be that THEY had tried a ton of stuff in the simulator, not just Bottas. It’s hard to believe it’s just him in the sim trying to fix the car for 3 weeks.

            As we saw last race and countless times before, Bottas can really struggle to find a working setup, so this work was surely more toward getting on top of that than being designated sim-mule for the team.

          2. Not at all @balue – it was Bottas who was in the simulator for the team. And he was the one talking about it in the press conference because of it.

            Both drivers have iminent interest in having a good base setup to go from for the weekend, since it helps both get closer to the optimal setup earlier and finetune their qualli and race planning. That Hamilton is better at coping if they struggle to find that sweetspot does not mean that he won’t be helped as much when they do find it vs. the competition.

  3. RocketTankski
    15th April 2021, 23:57

    Valtteri. Set team position to 2 please. Try and remain behind Lewis. And set your Championship chances to zero. Copy.

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