Bottas has “no idea” why he couldn’t match Hamilton and Verstappen on medium tyres

2021 Portuguese Grand Prix

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A disappointed Valtteri Bottas was puzzled by the performance of his tyres again as he fell from pole position to finish third in the Portuguese Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver said his lack of pace in the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix two weeks ago had been entirely due to difficulties getting his tyres to work.

In today’s race he felt unable to match the pace of team mate Lewis Hamilton or Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on the medium rubber which all three started on.

“When you start from the pole position, you have only one target for the race and that is to win the race and it didn’t happen today,” said Bottas. “So I’m disappointed.

“I don’t really know in the first stint why I didn’t quite have the pace.”

Bottas kept the lead at the start of the race and stayed ahead of his rivals following a Safety Car restart. But he soon came under pressure from Verstappen and Hamilton.

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“I felt everything in terms of the race start, restart, everything was good from my side. But I could see quite quickly on in the race that with the mediums I just didn’t have pace like Lewis and Max had. And I have no idea why. I don’t have the explanation.”

His pace improve in the second half of the race after switching to the hard tyres. But he lost more time with a technical problem on his car which caused his engine to go into a safety mode at one point.

“It was better on the hard tyre. At some point I was catching Max and then I had an issue with one sensor, I started to lose power and suddenly I lost like five seconds to Max and that was it.”

He was passed by Verstappen immediately after leaving the pits on hard tyres, which he said took a while to heat up.

“On the first lap, it was pretty bad. But we knew that the warm-up with the hard tyre was going to be tricky.

“Afterwards, once I got heat in the tyres, it was actually not bad and better than with the medium. But there’s lots of things to look at, to analyse and learn from in the next two days before starting to focus for the next race.”

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2021 Portuguese 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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33 comments on “Bottas has “no idea” why he couldn’t match Hamilton and Verstappen on medium tyres”

  1. Because they turned your engine down to hide the Mercedes’ true pace and make Lewis look better.
    Q2 yellow tires 1.17,9

    1. there are no engine mode changes after qualifying, your argument is invalid…

    2. lexusreliabilty?
      2nd May 2021, 20:51

      @Niki101 Did they turn down Perez’s engine too, ‘like they did to Gasly and Albon’?

    3. Alex Mazlan
      2nd May 2021, 23:45

      I suspect so. It happened since last year. Bottas question is indication he knows. They always tell Lewis towards end race or specific overtaking or defensive .. to change “Strat 10 or whatever” for more power ..

      1. Anon A. Mouse
        3rd May 2021, 1:44

        Those are ERS deployment changes. As @nickthegreek mentioned, engine mode changes are no longer permitted during the race.

        1. Not completly true they MAY turn the engine down if there is a risk of damaging the engine. But after that they cannot return to the original setting.

  2. I have an idea why!

  3. He doesn’t have the pace because he is a slow(er) driver, simple. Bottas’s race pace has consistently been worse than his qualifying pace over his career, he has 9 wins versus 17 poles.
    I’m starting to think he is the Jarno Trulli of this generation.

    Reply moderated
  4. RocketTankski
    2nd May 2021, 19:00

    Bottas is power level 7,000. Lewis and Max are over 9,000.

    1. Yeah, this time mode position 1-2 was too obvious.

  5. I know how he feels. I have no idea why I can’t run as fast as Usain Bolt.

    1. +1. This is as simple as that.

  6. Every sunday is a mistery for Mr. I’m-just-not-as-fast-as-them. Like Turkey last year, or Imola a fortnight ago.

    1. Thought the turkey problem was more like “why can’t I keep the car straight?”!

  7. Bottas was the ‘sighter’ for the cars immediately behind him. The cars behind could use him to properly position their cars into those blind crests. Whatever Bottas did he was going to use more breaks and scrub more off his tyres than those driving more ecconomically because of him. Any other track and the car with clear air would have had an obvious advantage. The real wonder is that he hadn’t figured this out.

    1. You’re partially right but I would think for race drivers that so a track walk, nealy a hundred laps by the time the race on Sunday starts…they would have a pretty clear understanding and knowledge of the track. Even playing on a video game you begin to understand where to position a car.
      These guys, I would imagine are 10x better sy this than I am.

      I put it down to tyres and the track surface. And ability of a driver to adapt to subtle changes in balance.

      Reply moderated
  8. Because you’re not as good as them?

    1. Who is as good as an 8 time world champion and the man everyone in the know thinks is best placed to topple him? I’m genuinely interested in hearing your answer to that question @velocityboy.

      1. I think it is Bottas who should answer that question, not Velocityboy

      2. Indeed @geemac! Not to mention there were far more cars yesterday who were surprised about how they weren’t able to get as much pace out of the mediums as they expected @velocityboy.

        That included Verstappen who complained about the lack of ultimate pace – ultimately he only passed Bottas after the undercut worked and Mercedes had a slightly slow pitstop to bring him in contention with Bottas on cold tyres making a mistake.

        Perez was also a bit mystified, even though he managed to get 53 laps out of them, but felt he lacked pace. And Gasly, Vettel and Sainz all were surprised to see themselves drop down the field while the hard tyre shod guys were faster than them and able to pass with DRS.
        This looks more like the teams still unclear about how the tyres work for them after only a few days of testing with varying conditions, races that were quite up and down with the weather so far and this track with its still quite unfamiliar track surface and lack of data (since they only were here end of last year).

  9. Perhaps Bottas 5.0 knows.

    1. Yeah, another one of those Marketing schemes launched by Mercedes/Liberty towards the media back then. Bottas 2.0 in order to spice things up. Nowadays the narrative is that Mercedes is not the fastest car. Haha. Always remember why this business is being organized by FIA & Liberty & factory teams: money. For money you need viewers. For viewers you need a story.

  10. the way lewis hunts down and then goes off into the distance, is amazing. that’s pure skill , and tyre management..

    as i saw it, lewis took 4 laps or so to plan his move and went for it.. bottas once overtaken,, just fell back and had no fight. and he wonders why..

  11. Bottas is a particularly excellent F1 driver. The reason he couldn’t keep up with Hamilton is because Hamilton is an all-time great.

    1. Correct.

      Well done, Charlie. You win the thread. You’re like the Lewis Hamilton of inductive reasoning.

      Reply moderated
  12. VINICIUS BEVILAQUA NEVES
    2nd May 2021, 23:58

    How about because he is not a fast driver?

  13. Pjotr (@pietkoster)
    3rd May 2021, 0:04

    When you know you are not fast is good. When you don’t know why is bad.

  14. John Ballantyne
    3rd May 2021, 2:22

    With all the high technology in F1 it’s about time somebody in the media or the pit lane came up with a mask that doesn’t keep slipping off the interviewees nose. Possible solution: visit an operating theater where you just can not allow a mask to slip off the nose!

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      3rd May 2021, 9:18

      All they need is a bit of nose wire then that never happens. That is something so many masks miss compared to the disposable ones.

      1. It seems they HAVE these bits in many of the masks, they just don’t seem to even bother with that. Baffling why they even make masks without those though, since it makes the mask quite useless if it does not sit tight around the nose @thegianthogweed!

    2. Pjotr (@pietkoster)
      3rd May 2021, 10:12

      Yeah, it is disturbing to look at. A useless item behaving badly.

  15. Talent perhaps Bottas, hmmm?

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