Mercedes fear chassis “write-off” from Bottas-Russell crash will slow their development

2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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The extensive damage Valtteri Bottas’s Mercedes sustained in his crash with George Russell could slow the team’s development programme, CEO Toto Wolff has warned.

Bottas and Russell were involved in a high-speed collision midway through the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix. Both cars went into the barriers and were heavily damaged in a crash which was so severe the race was temporarily red-flagged.

Wolff says that a potential write-off for one of their cars was something they had “always feared” given the implementing of new financial regulations – known as the budget cap – for the 2021 F1 season.

“The whole situation is absolutely not amusing for us, to be honest,” says Wolff. “It’s quite a big shunt. Our car is a write-off, in a cost cap environment that is certainly not what we needed and probably it’s going to limit upgrades that we are able to do.

“We are very stretched on cost cap and what we always feared is a total write-off of a car.”

With Mercedes losing victory to Red Bull, who have enjoyed their strongest start to a season for several years, Wolff is conscious of his team’s need to improve their car to avoid losing the championship battle to their rivals.

“We are still having a deficit with the car,” he said. “Yesterday, we ended up on pole, but if Max puts in a clean lap, we are probably two-and-a-half tenths behind, maybe three. That is simply what the pecking order is at the moment.

“Today it was very difficult to judge because of the circumstances. But we had a very good car today in the wet and when it was drying up. So we are slowly starting to understand it. But according to the data, we are still not having a car and power unit that can match the Red Bull-Honda.”

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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...
Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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40 comments on “Mercedes fear chassis “write-off” from Bottas-Russell crash will slow their development”

  1. What an irony – Russel crashes Mercedes hopes of the title this year.

    1. Double agent confirmed?

    2. But fuels the underdog marketing scheme

    3. And possibly next year as well

      Reply moderated
    4. Wolff ventilating his frustration, that’s all. The rest is BS, if anything he should be pleased with the red flag. Without it, Ham would have finished a far away from the podium and Bottas was on his way of the points without any good reason. Get Russel in that Mercedes, already.

  2. While trying to get that one (or even more) point Russell really did enough damage to Mercedes and Williams and even to his reputation.

  3. But plenty of time to get it fixed until the next race or later in the season. Teams have managed to fix bigger damage in a shorter space of time. Yes, a budget cap didn’t exist at the time, but still.

    1. Might even help Bottas find more pace, how often have we heard of other teams using brand new chassis to help find unkown defficiency between team mates performance in the same model car.
      Bit strong suggesting a team like Merc can’t manage to provide a new chassis without upsetting the apple cart. You don’t see Haas complaining when they have wrecked cars so just get your finger out at Brackley.

    2. Anon A. Mouse
      19th April 2021, 1:32

      Well understand, it’s certainly not a question of time. It’s the monetary cost of having to replace/reproduce all of the parts for the car which takes away from the money they could spend developing new parts for this and next season. So anything, for any team, that runs up expenses that are not on car development can be potentially catastrophic.

      1. If it were as simple as the cost of new parts, this wouldn’t be a discussion. Mercedes can and will do what is needed. The other side is the manpower and time required that takes away from new parts development and testing. You want to develop the car, that takes time and manhours. As well as $$$.
        Somewhat ironic that Mercedes is whining about what they “loose” in rebuilding one car, but lowly Williams has a pair of them to fix.

        1. Mercedes has a higher operating cost, personnel, facilities, compared to Williams so they will be already near the limits of the cost cap if not already there. If they they spend 10,000 dollars to buy parts for the old chassis, that is money that won’t go into the new car. Williams can not necessarily afford to build a new chassis, but they are probably far away from the cost cap as such even if they do borrow the money, they will not incur any penalties from exceeding the cost cap.

  4. I find the cost cap great, but I personally believe that repairs or replacing of parts of the same spec should be excluded.
    Accidents happen, and a team – whether it’s Mercedes or HAAS should not struggle to compete because of them.

    1. @sham does seem a bit weird. He’s basically saying if they have enough crashes during the year they can’t field a car cause it costs too much. Haas must be worried then with Massive-spin..!

      1. Not that it costs too much, but they could be penalised for doing so.
        They may also now be forced to lay off more workers just to not fall foul of the cost cap limits.

  5. Really was not a fan of Ted Kravitz’ insinuation that the drivers showed a lack of respect for Senna there. Very disappointing to hear although not too surprising given the amount of nonsence he often spews.

    1. Ted’s great but I agree with you there, I don’t think either driver was thinking about Senna after their own high speed crash and why should anyone expect them to be?

    2. @ninjenius Yeah, i’m glad someone else thought that was a weird one. I think it’s more morbid that Ted associates that corner as a ‘holy relic’ of sorts. What is he expecting drivers to do when going into that chicane, pay their respects? Was Kubica being ‘thoughtless’ when he had his barrel roll shunt in Canada 07′ just metres from where Paletti died? I don’t think anyone is disrespecting Ayrton by having an off where he died.

      1. They did pay their respects by offering a two-car sacrifice.

  6. DarkSchneider
    18th April 2021, 20:15

    Poor sweeties ….
    But i’m sorry, Toto.
    Bottas is a responsible driver too, he knows that at this seep, jus a little move is a lot of metters.
    I’ve watched the onbards several times, from both drivers, and from Kimi, and he’s keeping the line strait on the left turn, so, Russel, can’t start to turn left.
    With the speed, he can only go on the grass.
    Russell tried to keep some space between both cars.
    If Bottas wanted to avoid something, he cold have been just a little more on the left.
    There were too much speed difference to defend front line.

    It’s clearly dangerous.

    1. DarkSchneider
      18th April 2021, 20:26

      Speed* oups

    2. Russell put his wheel on the wet tarmac, he’s set a similar trap to Hamilton and the latter had bitten the bait, but wasn’t pointing finger to the prior. Bottas left enough room, George didn’t consider the grip loss from cooling the tire, maybe some awareness lacking.
      The move Bottas did on Russell was done by Sainz, Leclerc and Norris on Hamilton, but Lewis didn’t speed up, the Williams driver should be gentle with the throttle.
      Cheers

      1. With Norris at least, he was still to the left of the white line in the middle of the track when Hamilton passed – Bottas’ right wheels were straddling it, pushing Russell just a little further rightwards. In fact, the gap between Norris and Hamilton’s cars might not have been any more than the gap between Bottas and Russell’s cars – but that extra foot to the right put Russell’s tyre into the grass. Still avoidable maybe, by going closer to Bottas or even just aborting the overtake, but not quite so similar as it first appears, I don’t think.

        That’s just comparing to Norris-Hamilton though, haven’t seen any comparable footage of Sainz or Leclerc.

        Reply moderated
  7. Toto – what a whinger.

    1. Well, Toto is being asked questions, and he is literally responding to them lol.

      You think he’s just out giving a sermon whilst reporters/journalists stumble on by?

      You, however, just whined about Toto “whining” – unsolicited. The irony is beautiful.

  8. I think the worst thing to come out of this is that Valterri was effectively scrapping for points today with a Williams…

  9. Oh right. Great news.

    Reply moderated
  10. But according to the data, we are still not having a car and power unit that can match the Red Bull-Honda.”

    You had a car that was much faster than the RB. on a drying track up to the slow pitstop, and that then gained time on Max after, and then later set the fastest laptime in the race.

    I really wish Merc would stop trying so hard to push this narrative, it’s pretty clear them and the RB are pretty evenly matched at this stage.

    1. He had brand new tyres after the red flag, but Verstappen didn’t fit a new set.

      1. Hamilton did not have any brand new sets of medium tyres. Even the set that Mercedes put on in the first pit stop were used. So I dont know were you got that info

  11. It’s only race 2, but I think the writing is on the wall that Bottas will be out of a Mercedes race seat next season. A poor qualifying, a poor race at the tail end of the points where the team had to continually push him to drive faster, and then a messy incident with a Williams who was about to pass him which has resulted in a total write off of the car. I suspect he will be their test/reserve driver next season. I was a huge Bottas fan when he was with Williams and was very excited when he got the call from Merc. But it’s fair to say he’s been a disappointment at this point and seems to be buckling under the pressure of continued performances that can be called good, but not great and definitely not at the level you need to be to compete with Lewis or Max over the course of a season.

    1. I’m pretty sure Mercedes wants a complacent number 2, which they have in Bottas, instead of going after another driver who can and will shaken up the team harmony. Lewis and Toto doesn’t want another “Nico Rosberg”.

      Bottas only job is to be better than Perez and to be a nuisance to Max. The same can be said about Perez.

      Reply moderated
    2. However, the complication that is going to happen is the title fight with Verstappen. If Lewis wants to win it, he may need Bottas’ support and Bottas may not be willing to give that if Bottas knows that he will be out of the seat next year. Massa got contract extensions in 2010 and 2012 with Ferrari in similar circumstances as those were the seasons Alonso needed his support.
      The best thing for Mercedes here would be if Lewis is able to win the championship on his own so that Mercedes can freely sign George.
      The next best thing would be Mercedes firing Bottas irrespective of the championship situation, take the risk of losing the 2 championships this year but have a better shot at it next year.

  12. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    19th April 2021, 0:11

    Utterly insane that only after two races, taking a pole, a race win, a 2nd place after dropping to 9th and charging back up and leading the championship that they still are banging on about their ‘deficit to Red Bull-Honda’ being so large.

    Bluntly put it ain’t anywhere near as large as the yawning chasm between Mercedes and everyone else for the last 7 years.

    1. What’s utterly insane is your refusal to even consider that it might just be possible that Mercedes are no longer the outright fastest. We get it – you don’t believe it. You don’t need to bleat it on every single post.

      1. What’s utterly insane is that you didn’t reveal if you slammed the desk in rage over that crash.

  13. Well according to Russell he did nothing wrong and Bottas needs to learn how to drive.

  14. Toto really can’t stop playing the victim role this year, every time he opens his mouth some “cover my ass” stuff seems to come out.
    I really hope for once he is telling the truth and that Mercedes fall behind Mclaren, Ferrari etc. The way Mercedes, Hamilton have been acting with a sense of entitlement recently, they deserve a full season of troubles and off the podium.

    1. What and when did merc and Hamilton show any entitlement? Toto is speaking from his opinion on the data they have anout their car againat the redbulls data they have from all the practises etc. Both vers and perez made few mistakes with quali thays why they were 2 and 3 not because their car is slower.

  15. Excuse me………. Russel handed second place to a lapped LH ;-)

  16. Actually, Mercedes fear that their fans will call them traitors. For real!

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