Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Monaco, 2021

Mercedes lacked tyre performance to get Hamilton ahead of Gasly – Wolff

2021 Monaco Grand Prix

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said the team’s failure to solve their tyres woes at Monaco led to “not the prettiest of pictures” as they lost the lead in both championship fights.

Speaking after the Monaco Grand Prix, where the team scored a seventh-place finish for Lewis Hamilton while Valtteri Bottas retired after encountering a problem in his pit stop, Wolff said the team had to take what they could from it in the title fight. “It isn’t the prettiest of pictures and Lewis is behind, too, by four points, but it’s clear that it’s going to go until the very end.

“I hope the P7 points are going to make a difference. But let’s just learn, move on and conquer again.”

Hamilton had said that he felt there was a particular direction on tyres that the team should have taken, after qualifying seventh. However, Wolff explained that he didn’t believe the approach would have ultimately benefited them.

“I think it would have done better in qualifying, we would have suffered more in the race,” he explained. “The direction that we were thinking of was heating the tyres more, which we then finally did in qualifying, but not good enough.

“Valtteri was on course for pole, that’s what the lap prediction showed us. But you saw today that the degradation was worse than all the other cars and on competitors’ cars so that isn’t the solution.”

Wolff said that at the point drivers were called into the pits on lap 30 and 31, their strategy was dictated by tyre wear. “On Valtteri’s car we were finished with the tyres and on Lewis’ car when we analysed the tyres after the stop, there wasn’t anything left either.”

The lack of option to attempt an overcut on Pierre Gasly meant Hamilton finished the race behind the AlphaTauri, unable to pass around the Monte Carlo streets. “There wasn’t enough performance to overcut Gasly,” Wolff confirmed.

“I think it’s clearly so frustrating,” said Wolff. “You’re stuck behind a car that is almost two seconds slower and there’s just no way past him.

“I think our performance today would have probably been good enough to get [Hamilton] back on the podium on a normal track because we have pace in the car but here, it’s just [a] procession once you’re locked into a position.”

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2021 Monaco Grand Prix

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Author information

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...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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28 comments on “Mercedes lacked tyre performance to get Hamilton ahead of Gasly – Wolff”

  1. Toto Wolff is no Ross Brawn.
    Mercedes should thank their car engineers more.

  2. Interesting to see how consistently the Mercedes seem to be struggling to get heat into their tyres this year.

    1. It’s probably the thing that will keep the championship interesting for a while, but it’s likely they get on top of it by mid-season and then Red Bull may struggle to keep up. Enjoying a close battle while it lasts though.

      1. Let’s not forget red bull is up there with mercedes, or even better (at least so far) in in-season development, it’s ferrari that usually falls back.

  3. It wasn’t his fault, but equally Bottas showed that the car shouldn’t have been in a position where this could occur anyway.
    If you qualify in p7 in Monaco, generally that’s where you’re going to finish

    1. I think his point was that even thought the Q set up got Bottas in second, the increased race tyre wear was such that he would have probably lost places as Ham did, with others going longer. Gasly got one place, Seb a little later got the two of them, and Perez all three.

  4. I am surprised that they struggled with tyre wear in the race after all the other races. However, Monaco is unique, but this is a real shocker. I find this hard to believe, particularly on Hamilton’s side, but maybe they have and know more than us.

  5. Interesting that Hamilton’s engineers tried to go with a tire-life set up (compared to bottas anyway) when they were nowhere in fp3 and qualifying for lack of tire heat. I think in Monaco you do what you need to get on pole and then figure it out from there. But then Bottas’ wear was so bad I’m wondering if he would have been overcut by Norris as well as sainz. It seems they just didn’t have enough performance in the car and neither approach was a winning one.

    1. Yep @dmw quite interesting. I mean I get that Bottas having issues with his tyres showed in that he couldn’t attack Verstappen, but that doesn’t mean that without the pitstop going wrong he might still well have had 2nd, or at least the podium. In that sense, had they done similar for Hamilton, then he’d be in the fight with Sainz, Norris, ahead of Perez and Vettel.

      Seems a win really, so I guess that I get why Hamilton would think that too. As outsiders, we might be missing something, or underestimating the amount of trouble they would have been in during the 2nd part of the race (which clearly we didn’t see since Bottas never got to do that part of the race), but since now they ended up with HAM 7th and almost a lap down, can’t help but think they might have bettered that.

      Also, got to sort out the pitstops, how often in the last ten races have they had issues? Especially with Bottas, but also on Hamilton’s car in Russell’s Sakhir race, right?

      1. Anon A. Mouse
        23rd May 2021, 23:26

        As outsiders we’re always missing something or under/overestimating a team’s situation.

    2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      23rd May 2021, 20:56

      Bottas fell to 5 seconds but then maintained that gap for several laps until he boxed. I’m not sure Bottas will have lost any positions as he didn’t have the same problems as hamilton warming the tyres back up again. His warm up and qualifying laps were on it pretty quickly. I think the worst position for Bottas this race will have been 3rd.

      1. Yes, sainz had a chance to do something vs bottas on the pit stops.

  6. It seems Pirelli gave Bottas a different tyre set underhand.

  7. “I think it would have done better in qualifying, we would have suffered more in the race,” he explained. “The direction that we were thinking of was heating the tyres more, which we then finally did in qualifying, but not good enough.

    “Valtteri was on course for pole, that’s what the lap prediction showed us. But you saw today that the degradation was worse than all the other cars and on competitors’ cars so that isn’t the solution.”

    This is really astonishing. Track position is vital in Monaco, so there is no reason to sacrifice qualifying performance for race performance. Bottas’s set-up made much more sense (without his problem he would have finished well ahead of Hamilton).

    Still it was silly from Mercedes to try to undercut Gasly. They should have gone long with Hamilton no matter what. At least this would have made the life of the leaders a bit harder, as now they could simply counter the strategies of the cars behind.

    1. tesla (@thedogjustpukedonme)
      23rd May 2021, 23:08

      From the article:

      Wolff said that at the point drivers were called into the pits on lap 30 and 31, their strategy was dictated by tyre wear. “On Valtteri’s car we were finished with the tyres and on Lewis’ car when we analysed the tyres after the stop, there wasn’t anything left either.”

    2. I don’t think they could have gone long.

      ‘Wolff said that at the point drivers were called into the pits on lap 30 and 31, their strategy was dictated by tyre wear. “On Valtteri’s car we were finished with the tyres and on Lewis’ car when we analysed the tyres after the stop, there wasn’t anything left either.”’

      1. Ignore. tesla beat me to it.

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      23rd May 2021, 20:53

      @balue

      I wish there was a way to block seeing some people’s comments.

      1. @thegianthogweed +1 Would love that feature!

        1. I seem to recall something about an “Off Button”.
          Mine gets used a fair bit but it is an all or nothing approach.

  8. What’s with all the stories about Mercedes and Hamilton and none about Bottas, who managed to drag a car almost to pole and would have been 2nd except for his usual bad luck.

    1. Mr. Toto does not see a reason to talk about pit-stop blunder, he is happy to tell stories about why Hamilton could not perform.

      Story from other side of the coin.
      “Sitting in the car at the pit stop, I knew it was a slow one and I was calculating Sainz getting past, then Norris, and when it got to 30 seconds, I couldn’t believe it. It’s obviously hugely disappointing and we need to learn so it never happens again. It was bad luck from my side and as a team, it will be a priority for us to improve our pit stops moving forward. Our pit stops haven’t been our strongest point this year”

  9. If bottas’ wheel was cross threaded, shouldn’t that have been apparent on the grid? Did the mechanic who put the wheel on just decide not to tell anyone? I can work out how this happened with the precision custom parts used and the endless practice.

  10. It was a bit his fault, if Bottas could have his tyres in performance range, Hamilton should have been able to do that to (to some degree). He also complained on the radio that they brought him in too early. Well he could have told his team “NOT NOW, LATER” but he did come in and then complained about it, he could have made his voice heard prior to the pit stop.

    But the biggest fault of course was the team and his bosses/decision makers.

    And criticizing Hamilton is not equal to “hating on him” IMO.

    Reply moderated
  11. Indeed, if hamilton isn’t a struggler here he probably never will, outperformed by bottas in both quali and race by far.

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