“A bad 30 laps” for Bottas should concern Mercedes more than Russell’s failed pass

2021 F1 season

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In the final moments of the qualifying session for last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Mercedes CEO Toto Wolff came on the radio with a few words of encouragement for his driver Valtteri Bottas.

“All you have, Valtteri,” Wolff urged. Not a strange thing to do in itself, though it broke with convention, as Wolff had seldom been heard speaking to either of his drivers during previous weekends.

It later emerged the pair had spoken about how they could do more to inspire better performances from each team member. Wolff’s radio message spurring Bottas on was a product of that.

It didn’t quite produce the desired effect: Max Verstappen pipped Bottas to pole position by two hundredths of a second. But no one could deny Mercedes were doing everything to support their driver, a week after he’d been eclipsed by the team’s substitute George Russell in Bahrain.

A similar message was heard during last weekend’s Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix. “Come on, Valtteri” urged Wolff on lap 16. But again, things weren’t going well for car number 77; far worse, in fact.

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Imola, 2021
Friday went well for Bottas as he out-paced Hamilton
Bottas got his Imola weekend off to an encouraging start. At the track where he took pole position last year, Bottas topped both practice sessions, raising hopes of a repeat performance.

It wasn’t to be. Throughout Saturday the optimum temperature operating window for his Pirelli tyres eluded him. Lewis Hamilton parked the other W12 on pole position, Bottas the best part of half a second away. At the beginning of last season that gap would have meant second on the grid for Bottas. But the field is much closer in 2021, so he lined up eighth.

Strikingly’, Hamilton has described the handling of Mercedes latest car as “knife-edge”, and Bottas used the same phrase when explaining his ongoing struggle to match his team mate’s lap times.

“It’s a bit [of an] overall thing with our car over the years,” said Bottas. “We quite often struggled in hot conditions and cool has been normally good because we’ve had good tyre warm-up.

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“So we’ve been really trying to develop the car that we don’t overheat the tyres. But that’s come obviously with a negative, that if we need to get quickly temperature in the tyres, some other cars can do it better than us.

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Imola, 2021
From eighth on the grid, he slipped to 10th at the start
“For me personally, for example compared to Lewis, it’s so in the knife-edge in qualifying. Sometimes you get it [to] work, like for me in Q1 when I did a much faster time.

“But for some reason I just couldn’t get them to work in Q3 in the same way. So it’s all about one or two degrees of surface or tyre bulk temperature. It’s hard to explain. Obviously track temp was changing a bit, depending on how much there was cloud et cetera, so maybe that had a bit of a factor.”

While Bottas could produce competitive times after multiple laps on new tyres, he couldn’t do it when needed on the first run, explained the team’s head of trackside operations Andrew Shovlin.

“He did look very strong on Friday and was in a good position, very happy with the car. In qualifying he seemed to be struggling a little bit more for the tyre temperature than Lewis.

“The lap that he did in Q1 on his first run would have would have put him in the top four. He just couldn’t match that lap. That was the third lap of the tyres, moving to the first lap he wasn’t really able to match that.

“So there’s something that we need to understand. The thing with tyre temperature though is often a very small difference has a very big impact on grip.”

These problems appeared to be amplified over the wet opening laps of the race. Bottas lost two places at the start, got stuck behind Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin, and the gap between him and Hamilton in second place opened up quickly. From the moment the Safety Car came in, when racing resumed, until Wolff’s message just eight laps later, Bottas lost 49 seconds to his team mate.

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That is a huge loss, and it’s important to stress there were seven cars (initially) between them, each generally losing ground to the car ahead. But the difficulty Bottas was experiencing brought back memories of his labours in last year’s Turkish Grand Prix, also held on a wet track, though on that occasion he could at least point to car damage as a contributing factor to his problems.

Bottas was hit by a car he should never have been racing
Bottas’s spectacular retirement on Sunday in a collision with Russell, who is widely believed to be first in line for his seat, commanded a lot of attention after the race. It was clear Mercedes took a dim view of Russell’s role in the crash, even if the stewards deemed it a “racing incident”.

But while Russell took the heat in public, behind the scenes Mercedes must be asking why one of their cars was under attack from a Williams in the first place. And, for that matter, why on the lap before the collision Bottas was set to be lapped by Hamilton.

The furious criticism Bottas levied at Russell on his radio, and scenes of him greeting his rival with a raised middle digit after the crash, were ‘heat of the moment’ stuff. As he pointed out afterwards, despite months of speculation Russell could replace him, there is no great animus between the two.

“To be honest, I’ve never really worked that closely with him,” said Bottas. “Obviously, he’s been around for some time because he’s been reserve driver and done some tests for the team and some simulator work. So I know him a little bit. There’s never been any issues and no, nothing changed in Bahrain in terms of that.

“This one obviously I was not happy about how it ended up. But I’m a pretty easygoing guy, there’s no problems, but I can’t say that I’m friends with him, like I can’t say I’m friends with most or any of the drivers really.

“From my side, no issues. But [it] was not ideal because he made me lose a good chunk of points potentially, and I think it was his mistake.”

But there lies the rub: Russell wasn’t about to deprive Bottas of a “good chunk of points”; the Mercedes was heading for precisely two points when they crashed. That will concern them more than the momentary misjudgement by a driver who was trying to overtake one of their cars in a Williams.

“George should have never launched into this manoeuvre,” said Wolff after the race. But, as he also noted, “Valtteri had a bad first 30 laps and shouldn’t have been there.”

It’s starting to look like the words of encouragement will soon need to be replaced by something firmer.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

Bottas’ Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix team radio transcript

Communications between Bottas, race engineer Ricardo Musconi and Wolff from the first restart of the race until the crash which put the Mercedes out.

LapNameMessage
8MusconiHPP12 set position three.
8MusconiStroll the car ahead, less than a second ahead of him Gasly on X.
9MusconiYellow, yellow.
10BottasWhere?
10MusconiJust right behind you.
10MusconiSo pace at the front 30.1.
10MusconiStroll, three seconds ahead.
12MusconiSet position four on the next straight. HPP three, set position four.
12MusconiStrat six or seven.
13BottasTyres are finally starting to work a bit.
13MusconiCopy, you are a couple of degrees below Lewis.
13MusconiPace at the front 28.8.
13MusconiAnd Stroll two seconds ahead.
16MusconiCurrently losing a lot of time behind Stroll.
16WolffCome on, Valtteri.
16MusconiGive us an update on conditions, balance check.
19BottasTrack is still inters but it’s drying quickly. Tyres are good. Low-grip, balance okay.
19MusconiCopy all that.
19MusconiTry diff high speed five for more stability.
19MusconiSo pace at the front 27.0.
20Musconi[Unclear] dry tyres, he’s on the medium, we’ll let you know how he’s getting on.
21MusconiAnd do you think it’s ready now? And do you think it’s ready now?
22BottasNot yet.
22MusconiVettel is losing time. Vettel is losing time.
24MusconiValtteri these tyres will drop a bit and they will get the grip back.
24BottasOkay. It’s so hard to follow up I’m trying everything, but can’t get closer.
24MusconiKeep us up to date with a track.
24MusconiRe-open diff high-speed two three.
25MusconiStill no cars going faster on dry.
25MusconiYou completed 25 laps.
25MusconiSuggested diff exit six for turn seven.
27MusconiStroll is in.
27MusconiPush hard now, it won’t be long.
28MusconiGasly on exit, Gasly on exit, he will struggle with warm up.
28MusconiChassis wet set position one.
28MusconiHPP 12 set position five. Box box box.
28MusconiBrake balance for the line. Pit entry is a slippery, new Tarmac.
28MusconiBrake balance for the box.
28MusconiSo we’ll be close with Stroll on exit.
29MusconiSo you have overtake, watch out for wheelspin on exit, warm-up is difficult.
29MusconiSo car behind Stroll is Verstappen, the race, we will get blue flags.
29MusconiYou have blue flags for Verstappen.
29MusconiDRS has been enabled.
29MusconiSo Lewis behind, car behind, don’t make him lose any time.
30MusconiYou’re racing Russell.
30MusconiSo Lewis in the gravel trap at turn seven.
30MusconiRussell half a second behind.
30MusconiBottas and Russell collide
Yellow, yellow.
31BottasWhat a fucking cunt.
31MusconiAre you OK, Valtteri?
31BottasYeah. Big one. All good.
31MusconiJust be careful. They’re deploying Safety Car.
31MusconiAnd go P0 before you jump out

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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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83 comments on ““A bad 30 laps” for Bottas should concern Mercedes more than Russell’s failed pass”

  1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    21st April 2021, 13:51

    Thanks for putting the transcript up.

    So Lewis behind, car behind, don’t make him lose any time.

    Next lap

    You’re racing Russell.

    That pass was never going to happen…

    1. Bottas, Toto and Lewis cracked under pressure. Only Lewis had the power to redeem himself right away as we know from him. A valuable lesson from Lewis towards Toto. I hope he took note

  2. I miss the time when you were uploading more team radio transcript

    1. To be fair to Keith, this is time consuming. Plus, Keith was transcribing radios during the pre-Liberty era, during which FOM would have zero presence on Youtube and social platforms.

      Nowadays, F1 publish a good amount of content, most of which contains radio quotes. For our pleasure.

      Reply moderated
    2. Yes bring back the TRT!

  3. I think Bottas is pretty much out of Merc. Only thing Toto would want is to help Bottas find a seat in one of the near-front running teams with the assistance of Mercedes so that Bottas is grateful and aids Lewis’ and Merc’s WDC and WCC challenge for this year.

    An under-performing Seb who chooses to retire at the end of this year will be music to Toto’s ears. All the near-front running teams are anyways not open to Bottas.

    1. Funny you mentioned Seb. I think Bottas is showing the exact same problems of not doing well if the car isn’t 100% as you like it.

      I’m glad this article has highlighted that the incident has largely hidden his poor performance. He was about just about to get lapped by his team mate, which is shocking really.

    2. Why would any-one hire Vettel? The only reason I can possibly come up with is his marketing value. Vettel is in the category Grosjean, but just happened to do 4 Button’s while having an unbeatable car. Toto knows this. I bet he said to Stroll: yeah, boost the brand with Seb, use his technical knowledge, your son will look good in the process and then move on by getting rid of him.

  4. I don’t think Mercedes is happy with both Russell and Bottas after Sunday. The former tried a risky overtake that required pinpoint accurate driving, and failed, while the latter just had no pace when it mattered the most in Q3 and in the race. Ironically, Russell was involved in the incidents with Hamilton and Bottas. Unless, in the most absurd circumstances, the crash was an absolute Mercedes Master Plan to get Hamilton to recover points haha

    If Russell continues to get involved incidents, I don’t think he will be considered for Mercedes next year. Avoiding incidents is huge, especially during long seasons.

    By the way, I miss the team radio transcripts. Think it requires a lot of work to do though.

    1. Avoiding incidents is huge, especially during long seasons.

      Incidents have way more impact (hehe) during short seasons

    2. Agreed George may have potential but he has long way to go with racecraft. People put him in leclerc or verstappen tier the only justification
      Is potential but he needs to show it now otherwise he will be forgotten.

  5. I would advocate for a Swap Russell-Bottas, RedBull style.
    Looks like Valtteri is in a state of confusion, unfortunately this is getting worse and worse (my opinion).
    He might have the occasional spike in form but his performances in and out of the car are degrading like supersofts after 50 laps….

    1. @schivo69 I’m not sure if an in-season swap a la Red Bull would make a direct difference, but otherwise, I agree with you on his general performance level.

      1. It might if Perez gets the 2nd RedBull going, and judging from his near pole it looks like he could be in the mix in a few races. If Valtteri can’t keep up, Lewis might find himself in the position Verstappen was the last two seasons.

    2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      21st April 2021, 14:33

      Bottas was awful this race in the wet, but have you noticed wet weather is virtually always his weakness? If he was noticeably getting worse and worse in a noticeable pattern at the moment, I don’t think he would have been better than Hamilton in Abu Dhabi and literally matched pace wise almost the entire race last weekend. I think It is more obvious that Bottas just isn’t really improving since 2017 rather than going backwards and he’s just had a couple of wet races more recently that have clearly shown the area he’s not good in. In the dry he’s hardly ever this weak.

      One weakness I would say Bottas has is that when things don’t go his way, that does seem to have an effect on his performance due to confidence issues. But for some reason, he vertically always has worse luck than Hamilton and that has been the case every season since 2017. And it didn’t help that his team messed up in the first race.

    3. @schivo69 I’m actually in agreement. A cold, rational, team-centred decision based on current performance and how the season is likely to unfold would indicate (a) Bottas isn’t going to improve, whatever wishful thinking Toto and Valtteri may conjure up, he’s been at this level for 4 years, (b) Mercedes are going to need a second driver at least at the same level as Perez or better to compete effectively against Red Bull in both world championships. Put Russell in the other car alongside Hamilton and suddenly Mercedes look sharp and set to beat Verstappen more often than not. Leave Bottas there and they’re essentially putting everything on Hamilton’s shoulders to deliver mistake-free every race – which, as we saw, is asking too much. That’s the reality. Will Mercedes do a swap? Probably not. They’re not Red Bull and will cite the need for loyalty instead. However if this pattern is repeated for the next 6-8 races, even they may start considering the option. By when it may be too late.

      1. @david-br And (c), Hamilton is near the end of his career. Mercedes need to start planning for the future and getting a youngster in the car used to battling at the front and getting the most out of a quick car is very important.

        Russell has shown his weakness is currently when he’s racing other cars and it’s not a surprise when he’s spent years driving around on his own at the back. it’s very different when the pressure is on and he needs to get used to that before he’s anywhere near ready to lead the Mercedes team.

        1. @petebaldwin

          Russell has shown his weakness is currently when he’s racing other cars

          He was fine driving for Mercedes in Bahrain last year. I think this year is tricky because the grid is closer and Williams are within snapping distance of points, so maybe a touch of over-eagerness to get into the top 10 or higher has crept in, combined with the fact that he has to prove he’s worth that Mercedes place as an improvement on Bottas or ‘equivalent’ to Hamilton (as top driver, matching Leclerc or Verstappen at their teams).

    4. But what kind of a message would it be to promote Russell after what he did last sunday? He destroyed a Mercedes car, blamed the other guy and gets rewarded for it? It also doesn’t seem to help that Russell and Hamilton don’t talk, even though they deny it, there seems to be some kind of tention. Mercedes will never want to distract Lewis from trying to get that 8th WDC.

      Plus Red Bull never changed drivers in season while actually battling for the top spot in the WDC and WCC. In 2016 they were on par with Ferrari, while Mercedes was already 100 point ahead in the constructor championship, after 4 races (!). In 2019 Mercedes had won 10 out of the 12 first races and had a massive point advantage over Ferrari and Red Bull.

      The last time I can remember an absolute top team booting a driver during the season was Benetton ánd Williams 1994, Benetton booted both JJ Letho (in favor of Verstappen) and Jos Verstappen (in favor of Herbert), while Williams booted DC, so Mansell could help the team claiming both championships.

      1. @montalvo Russell would be a direct threat to Hamilton, no doubt, perhaps even like having Verstappen or Leclerc on the same team. But as a fan of both drivers, I’d be severely disappointed in Hamilton posing any obstacle to Russell joining the team while he’s there, this year or next. If Hamilton renews his Mercedes contract for next year and after, then Mercedes are going to have to make a decision on Russell, either pairing him with Hamilton (perhaps against the latter’s preference) or seeing him move to a rival team. I don’t blame Russell for trying to make the pass. There are drivers content with driving round in circles doing ‘OK’ and satisfying themselves with excuses, and they are drivers who want to win the race. Russell is the latter. It irritates me exceedingly to hear Wolff trying to dampen that instinct and back mediocrity. That comes from complacency from having Hamilton there.

        1. Russell would be a direct threat to Hamilton, no doubt

          Don’t overhype Russell please, @david-br.
          He might be Mr Saturday (and take some poles away from Lewis if in the same car), but on Sunday he has never been very special. He is not even at the level of Norris (yet).
          Just for the fun of it check his Sunday performance against Latiffi and you’ll see that it isn’t as spectacular as many make it out to be. Or maybe Latiffi is much better than 20th (last year’s rating).

          However, this does support the argument by @petebaldwin to put Russell in the Merc now to start giving him some experience and test him for next year.

        2. ‘It irritates me exceedingly to hear Wolff trying to dampen that instinct and back mediocrity. That comes from complacency from having Hamilton there.’

          Hear hear. Couldnt agree more. Toto under pressure turns out to be not quite the relaxed guy we’ve seen so far.

      2. So the hairbrained races that the likes of Senna, Hamilton and Verstappen occasionally had, meant that they should be sacked as apparently going for a rash overtake isn’t the way things are done? Really??!!

        And please this Hamilton / Russell thing has been created ever since Hamilton rushed back after Covid, when really he shouldn’t have, with neurotics thinking that he feared for his seat and was worried that Russell would actually win the last race and undermine him. What a load of tosh!! Hamilton, consistently in words and deeds has shown over the years that he genuinely loves competition.

        Sunday showed exactly why Bottas should have been dumped after Russell should himself to the better driver at Bahrain. Toto is simply putting an arm around Valterie who lacks confidence – hence the ‘motivational’ Toto radio calls.

        1. @banbrorace Absolutley, ‘if you don’t go for the gap you ain’t racing’.

  6. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    21st April 2021, 14:27

    I can’t deny that Bottas did a terrible job this weekend, but every time I see things say that Bottas shouldn’t have been racing Russell, which is true, it has to be said that Hamilton also will have had to race more than one car “he should never have been racing” too. But Russell hitting Bottas prevented this from occurring.

    If Bottas’s race was this bad, it is interesting to point out just how big the consequences of hamilton’s mistake were as it likely would have resulted in an even lower points finish or maybe not even in them.

    To me it shows how an awful drive with no big mistakes in a way still can potentially be better than one mistake that costs far more time.

    1. @thegianthogweed Hamilton made one mistake trying to lap on a rainy track. We saw Verstappen and others making mistakes too. It’s consequences were huge, yes, but he came back from them. Bottas, on the other hand, was underperforming in qualifying and in lap after lap during the race, and (in my view) contributed to his own DNF too. There’s no relative comparison.

      1. He didn’t come back from them because of skill, while I was obviously impressed he managed to get back on track, he only was able to come back to fight for top positions because of luck, as in red flag, were it not for that, ofc he’d have been able to overtake cars, unlike bottas, but I don’t think he’d have got many points.

      2. Hamilton made one mistake trying to lap on a rainy track.

        Interestingly his biggest mistake wasn’t being too eager to overtake on a wet track, but trying to spin his beached car out of the gravel trap.
        @david-br

    2. @thegianthogweed Weird with a so long bashing article of Bottas with much comparison to his team mate when the reality is that without the team mate getting the most bizarre luck and help from FIA he would likely have finished ahead had he not been taken out by Russell.

      1. @balue What help from the FIA are you talking about?

        1. @fluxsource Sanctioning the unbelievable ‘have a lap back and see how many points you can score’ – rule.

          1. @balue Other than the fact that Hamilton will on average lose out to that rule more often than gaining from it, and that the rule has been in place for a little while, it’s the only fair way to manage a race restart.

            I’m sure if you spent 2 or 3 seconds thinking about it you’d realise why.

          2. @fluxsource Calling such a rule fair and asking people to think things through is beyond bizarre

          3. @balue Let me take you through it step by step.

            There are three cars left in the race – A, B and C. A has just lapped C, and is about to lap B. A drain cover comes off and the race is red flagged.

            In your world, C goes from being 2 seconds behind the car in front, to being an entire lap behind the car in front. B goes from being an entire lap behind the car in front, to being 2 seconds behind the car in front, and a whole lap in front of the car behind.

            In what possible way does that make any sense?

  7. @thegianthogweed Difference is that Hamilton’s was just a split-second driving error, which was a poor misjudgment, but it’s a rare occurrence. Bottas’ issue was that he was just plain slow. Not for the first time either, which shows it’s a fundamental problem.

    1. @mashiat Sorry to repeat exactly your same point!

      1. @david-br Great minds think alike ;)

      2. @mashiat Yeah you basically read my mind, or I your‘s. For LH his day was a very rare thing, and for VB this is becoming expected after so many races of him, sure, not usually being so out of it and being passed by a Williams, but still, not really utilizing the car he has either.

        I have said all along for the last couple of seasons that GR needs to replace VB for next year, and to me especially while LH is there to help teach him, but also especially for the very beginning of the new cars. I will be very very surprised if closer to this season’s end or right afterwards we do not hear of GR’s signing with Mercedes. Perhaps sooner so they in fairness give time to VB to find a seat and perhaps that should be back at Williams. Just don’t think it will be done like an in-season swap, imho.

        1. @mashiat Lol saw your great minds comment after I made my post about reading my mind or I your’s, so…wasn’t trying to claim to be a great mind for myself lol.

    2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      21st April 2021, 22:22

      Yea I’m entirely aware that performance is what matters, especially when judging a driver in the long term, but reflecting on this race, my main point is that Hamiltons small mistake effectively was more costly than Bottas’s awfully slow performance the whole time he was racing. And as the higher finishing position is what matters, that is the reason why i made this point small errors can sometimes be more costly than simply underperforming (even to a large extent like bottas) but keeping your car on the road.

      1. @thegianthogweed I understand your point. In a one-off race, sometimes it’s better to be the tortoise than the hare. Take Vettel’s drive to 2nd in Hockenheim 2019 as an example. 20th to 2nd seems incredible, but the truth is, for most of the race, he was unable to even keep up with the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen, let alone the frontrunners. He was only really able to make up positions when the track dried out, but the reason he finished 2nd was that although he was unspectacular and not particularly quick all race, he didn’t make the mistakes that Bottas, Leclerc or Hamilton did.

  8. It didn’t look like Bottas turned up for this race – he seemed as disinterested and unmotivated as Vettel has done. That Mercedes, as Hamilton demonstrated is more than capable of racing back through the field from the lower ends of the top 10 but Bottas went backwards and stayed there. I like Bottas, on his day he’s got some great abilities but he does seem to have some races where he just isn’t there, and the problem is that there seems to be more off days than good days with him lately. It’s performances like this one that suggest he’s just not got a championship in him and further fuels why Mercedes will bet on Hamilton instead.

    1. Or he all ready know this is his last year with Mercedes….

  9. Herberto Quaresma
    21st April 2021, 14:42

    I would like to see Lando Norris in Mercedes AMG F1 team next year with LH.

    1. Absolutely. I cannot see it happening but in my opinion Lando is as good and probably better than George. Of course it’s quite difficult to tell in view of the cars they are driving.

    2. That would be interesting!

  10. Bottas was looking at a chunk of points, there was half a race left and in dryer conditions with DRS his car was easily much faster than his rivals.

    1. Bottas isn’t very good at overtaking, he isn’t daring, I have a hard time seeing him pass the ferraris or norris.

  11. You wonder if Mercedes kind of have the Red Bull problem at the moment. The car has pace but is very difficult to drive at the moment, the very very top tier drivers (Hamilton and Verstappen) can handle the difficulty and issues so find the potential that the car has.
    The good drivers (Bottas, Albon, Gasly etc) get caught up in the issues and lose crazy amounts of time when compared to the top tier guys

    1. @burden93 It’s not ”top tier guys”, it’s that their car is made for them, more so than their team mate. And in those teams, the strategy for the second drivers are always dubious at best.

      1. While often true this isnt what we are talking about here, its the fact that the cars are just difficult to drive (merc and rb).

        Yes the lead driver often gets the car built around them and it benefits them, but cars that are just outright tricky is where you really see the cream rise to the top. Eddie Ervine pointed this out in an interview years ago. He said when the cars were easy to drive he wasn’t far away from Michael but when they had a card that was difficult he couldn’t get close to him. The same is true when it comes to wet races, the cream rises to the top.

  12. Bottas has had consistent issues during a lot of races, and qualifying sometimes, with tyre warming. We’ve seen it at race starts when he loses grip, loses places, and then loses pace because he’s stuck in traffic. It’s a snowball effect seemingly easy to trigger and often difficult for him to recover him – sometimes after the last pit stop, with new tyres warmed up, he seems to regain that Mercedes pace and put in some good lap times. But that’s the pattern. This season looks set to be worse as he himself explains (and admits) with Hamilton able to keep the tyre temperature better and handle the ‘knife-edge’ lower rear downforce better too. Mercedes will need to dream up something good to solve that in the car.

  13. Have to admire these guys, no matter what nationality their go to language for a good old swear after a crash is English. Think its the first thing they are taught by the mechanics when they join a team.
    Makes you proud to be British.

    1. is it required? i mean the FIA may need this as in case they need to analyse something very quicky, say safety wise..
      say like a blackbox..?

    2. Oh i heard Vettel swear in German a lot….

  14. I think it’s too soon to tell, Bottas has been a solid #2 for several years, I don’t think his effort or determination has reduced. I feel it’s more about the poor car Mercedes made for 2021. Without DAS and solid rear downforce, he’s struggling and lacking confidence.

    1. For a poor car it’s pretty damn good, I can’t really say red bull is better so far, I’d say it was the better car in qualifying on both races, and in the races they probably were similar in both cases.

  15. Bottas looking more and more like he’s going on a Seb spiral – there’s only so many times you can “get back on the horse”… Especially when everyone in the crowd is shouting at you to go home and let the next cowboy in.

  16. How many times do we see Valtteri struggling to fight his way through the field yet see Lewis doing so with ease?

    I understand the logic in having a no.2 driver but the issue now is that Bottas’ performances are likely to affect Mercedes’ chance of retaining the Constructors Championship, especially if Perez reaches the performance level for Red Bull that he’s already showing signs of being capable of.

    A switch to Russell sooner rather than later would make a lot of sense. I don’t think Mercedes are ruthless enough to do it mid-season but they probably should as it could be their only way of remaining champions.

    I hate seeing a driver struggle but Valtteri has had more than enough opportunity to shine.

    1. Monza 2020 was a good example.

      1. Also is it that bad if mercedes loses the constructor (and the drivers’) title because of sticking to an underperforming number 2 driver? Sounds like a fair punishment to me.

    2. A dry (nearly dry) track, made it easier for Hamilton, but it was remarkable how he had no overtaking issues in comparison to Bottas

      And you’d expect Hamilton to be more cautious – after all he beached the car when trying to overtake

      I liked Bottas a lot as a personality. Like Kimi he has the nice understated quality – someone who I can imagine cares for his friends. But he gives a lot of trash talk in the last couple of seasons in an obvious attempt to big himself up – starting with that laughable “2.0” rubbish. He talked up his Russia victory, last season, as if it was Senna at his best – seemingly forgetting that once Hamilton got that penalty it was downhill all the way

      It’s indicative of someone who lacks confidence and knows they really shouldn’t be in the top team

    3. Perez reaching what heights..Checo is a journey man and not half as good as bottas.. whats mad is people ignore checo s history.. one reason why MacLaren dumped him was the number of write offs he had during practice sessions which people conveniently ignore.. he crashes out in free practice and damages the car entirely.. It happened three times that year.. we have seen same in red bull with the Ocon incident at Imola. So he messed up quality in race one, spun in race two and now let’s see race three.. my prédiction is after race three he will lose his drive.. I know it is mad but let’s wait and see. You heard it here first

      Reply moderated
  17. Bottas, if you think back, has been in decline for quite a while. He knows it and has declared himself the upgraded driver Bottas 2 then ‘the new Bottas’ now the ‘selfish and determined’ Bottas. But things just inexorably goes downward.

    The Toto calls to him during races shows the concern in the team which can’s afford a passenger getting a couple of points at every race. Even in Bahrain ge was third but miles behind and if the second RedBull has been on song he would have been toast.

    Is it family problems after the divorce, is it just the occasional Finnish melancholia. Or is it the deadening and deadly realisation that he will never, ever, match Hamilton. He had a race free of Hamilton and Bottas flunked it.

    1. Indeed, I don’t understand why some people defend bottas to the point of saying in bahrain he was going as fast as hamilton, I remember he lost a few sec due to a pit mistake by mercedes, but for the rest he was really at a whole other pace compared to hamilton and verstappen.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        21st April 2021, 22:41

        @esploratore

        http://en.mclarenf-1.com/index.php?page=chart&gp=1057&graf=3&dr1=Lewis%20Hamilton&dr2=Valtteri%20Bottas

        Bottas can’t really have any excuses for his pace last race. He is just poor in the wet, but this link shows his lap pace compared to Hamilton in Bahrain.

        Like some people (including me) have defended Bottas for Bahrain, that is because his pace was indeed as fast as hamilton.

        Leclerc had a great start and Bottas lost a bit of time behind him, but not much (around 4 seconds), but then from then on, he matched Hamilton pace wise the whole race. Or averaged out at least as sometimes he was quicker. He lost 8 seconds in the pits and as a result lost a little more time as it released him into traffic which obviously wasn’t planned and before he pitted for FLAP, he was around 15 seconds off the lead. Had leclerc not had his excellent start and Bottas had a normal length pit stop, he will have likely been really close to verstappen by the end, maybe even within DRS range.

        Bottas can be heavily criticised for his performance last race but his pace in Bahrain was pretty much right up there with the leaders in. Only a few saw it that way though.

  18. He has a bew girlfriend tho’ @Witan, no?
    Anyway, it’s sad to see this Seb-like downward spiral. Reminds me a bit of Villeneuve

    1. Villeneuve declining is a myth, he was driving like 1996 and 1997, it’s only that he got terrible cars, you should be able to decipher performance behind bad cars, that’s how we knew leclerc was good already back in sauber.

      1. @esploratore

        Silly me i never knew Jaques was in a one man team and did not have a teammate, which is always the bestway to compare drivers. The worst WC in decades.

        Reply moderated
  19. Bahrain was a good race for Bottas, this one wasn’t. This might be his last season in Mercedes. Still if Hamilton retires I can’t see Bottas and Russell in the same team. He has been too many seasons in that 2nd seat. He ain’t going to do that again with Russell. But I can’t see Russell and Hamilton together there either. If Russell gets that seat next season who is going to drive that other one? Norris? Verstappen? Ricciardo?

    1. If russel gets there they maybe will take another bottas, a number 2 driver who won’t cause issues, so that excludes a handful, including the ones you mentioned, someone like sainz would probably work, though I imagine he’s quite satisfied of ferrari’s improvement.

    2. Bahrain was a good race for Bottas, this one wasn’t.

      Very good point, @qeki.
      If taking away the lost time of the poor pitstop and the extra 3rd pitstop, then he would be within 10s of Hamilton who won and according to some journalist showed “a super-human effort“.

  20. Feels to me like the years of being unable to beat Hamilton have finally broken Bottas. Poor guy seemed to be crying after his crash.

    1. @aliced True, the very very last thing VB wanted, expected, and needed, was to be passed by a Williams, let alone that of George’s.

    2. I think Bottas was just winded and very shocked. How many times have you crashed into a wall at 140 mph?

  21. Cristiano Ferreira
    21st April 2021, 22:07

    Bottas needs some fresh air, and by that I mean going out of the Mercedes team. His best bet is to hope that Seb has enough and decides to retire, so he can go to Aston Martin in his place.

    In this season his sole purpose is to race Perez and be better than him (a simple job, considering Perez is still a newcomer in Red Bull), so he should focus on that if he still wishes to be a wingman.

    Russell was right to try to pass him, and i think he would do that again if given the chance. If he listens to Toto he is doing himself more harm than good, because he only said that because he is a Mercedes junior racing the Mercedes team. If he pulled that move in a Red Bull and caused Perez or Verstappen to crash, i bet Toto was going to be full of praise and tell all of us how Russell’s move showed he is a champion in the making.

  22. Electroball76
    22nd April 2021, 0:01

    Considering he was originally an emergency Rosberg replacement, (and has been temping in F1’s most successful team of the last decade), Bottas has had a fairly remarkable career so far.

  23. NeverElectric
    22nd April 2021, 2:59

    Maybe the decision to replace Bottas with Russell has already been made and communicated to the two of them….:-)

  24. Mark in Florida
    22nd April 2021, 23:12

    People are saying that Russell should replace Bottas. That would be fine but Ocon or Norris could probably do as well. I think that they have the talent. I don’t criticize Russell for trying to pass Bottas. If he had made that pass and Lewis had come by also and put Bottas down a lap everyone would have said that pass was heroic in the Williams. The distance between hero and zero is very narrow. But I give George credit for trying, that’s more than I can say for Valterri and I used to like him when he was still motivated to win.

  25. Bottas more often than not is nowhere in a wet race. In Turkey last year and now at a wet Imola track. Mercedes expects him to score 80-85% of Hamilton’s points total in a season to keep the job but this year he is struggling to do that. Russell is very likely to replace Bottas for 2022.

  26. I dont understand why we are discussing Bottas. He is there because he is a walk over that doesnt complain and enables Lewis and the team. Bring in the points left on the table by Lewis and he will have a drive. If not, he will be replaced. No point in discussing his skill level. Its below par, everyone knows that.

  27. Ferrari 3-3 McLaren (1998): Coulthard fouls Schumacher, both get into a fist fight and both get sent off. Later, they reconcile in a press conference.
    Red Bull 3-1 Racing Point (2018): Ocon fouls Verstappen, Verstappen only shoves him, both get sent off. Later Verstappen was completely, completely done with everything.
    Mercedes 0-0 Williams (2021): Bottas fouls Russell and a big fist fight ensues between both of them, and everything goes totally out of control. Both the Mercedes and Williams manager had to intervene, Bottas and Russell get sent off, with Latifi also sent off too for being extremely angry at the referee.

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