Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Hungaroring, 2021

Bottas apologises and accepts penalty for crash which was “obviously my mistake”

2021 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Valtteri Bottas took full responsibility for the turn one incident he caused at the start of the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver ran into Lando Norris on a wet track at the start, pushing Norris’ car into Max Verstappen, while Bottas ran into the other Red Bull of Sergio Perez. While Verstappen continued, the other three all retired.

“It was obviously my mistake,” Bottas admitted. “I was the one coming from from behind and it’s up to me to brake early enough, but I misjudged the braking point.

“It shows it’s not so easy in those conditions to predict. But I should have braked earlier because when I started braking, I was closing in and then I locked the wheels and I hit Lando and that caused the whole mess. So misjudgement and my mistake.”

Bottas started from second on the grid but got away poorly, falling behind the three drivers he then collided with. He believes his slow start was due to his intermediate tyres cooling on the way to the grid.

“I hit the clutch target for the inters as I should, but had wheelspin,” Bottas explained. “I think I lost some temperature on the formation lap. I need to review but obviously that caused that mess, having that bad start.”

The stewards found Bottas was fully responsible for the incident and issued him a five-place grid penalty for the next race and two penalty points against his superlicence, bringing him to a total of four. “I’ll take it,” said Bottas.

“It’s obviously it’s not ideal, but at least in the next race it is possible to overtake so it’s not like the weekend is over. It’s going to make it more difficult. But if that’s the decision, that’s what it is.”

He confirmed that he had apologised to his fellow drivers who were forced to retire as a result of the incident.

“It was clear that I started the turn one mess at the front and I said it was my bad, so they know that I’m not trying to blame anyone else. That’s what I do, I accept the mistake.”

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2021 Hungarian 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 motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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27 comments on “Bottas apologises and accepts penalty for crash which was “obviously my mistake””

  1. I’m really annoyed at how Hamilton [again] got so lucky with this, but we have to admit that without the carnage Bottas caused, we would not have such a thrilling race with such an unpredictable result. So i can’t hold a grudge against him.

    1. I understand that you are upset, but the RB16B is still a mightily fast car in Verstappen’s hands (less so with Checo). We’ve seen it being faster than the Mercedes in straights in France and hold its ranks in the turns in Silverstone. Spa being a mix of the two, I predict a strong showing for RB.
      The battle is still on.

      1. Checo doesn’t get the same spec as Max, so it’s not a level playing field, which is really frustrating.

  2. Davethechicken
    1st August 2021, 17:50

    Another race, another red flag.
    As I watched and waited for what is now the go to response to a crash with debris, I did ponder why Bottas and Stroll didn’t attempt to keep going, on 3 wheels behind the safety car.
    After all we know a front suspension can be replaced in 30mins (as RBR did after an incident on a lap to the grid)
    Surely is now worth the gamble that a red flag might allow otherwise race ending damage to be repaired.
    No doubt the teams will be considering this.
    Be like the Wec / Le Mans soon!

    1. Because the red flag came really late (a whole lap later)… usual abysmal indecisive performance from you know who.
      Many other drivers also pitted and lost out positions.

      1. Including verstappen. In a title race this tight that was a big deal.

        1. Davethechicken
          1st August 2021, 19:30

          Don’t really mean Verstappen here, more the potential that teams or drivers will continue behind a sc with damage that would normally mean retirement, in the hope a red flag will follow thus allowing the repair.
          It is common in WEC for cars to continue back to the pits with major damage for repair, but races obviously are much longer with many more cars having issues.
          Would be new for F1

        2. Indeed another big failure of Massi.
          Should have thrown the red flag immediately.
          But no: first let the drivers with damaged cars pit to take further position loss and only then give the red flag

    2. Yes, you are right. They love red flags this season so you should always keep going, always.

  3. I have defenced Bottas quite a lot but this was one of his worst mistake in F1. I’m not sure how thin is the paper for that second seat and how all this affects to that 2nd seat. Still this crash came in a very bad time. Horrifying mistake but this does not make his season bad but it could be his last in Mercedes.

    1. He tends to make a lot of mistakes in hungary, doesn’t he? I remember 2018, where ferrari looked as fast as merc but merc had started ahead thanks to the rain in quali, and hamilton won, but bottas got overtaken by vettel and hit him, causing some small damage, then overtaken by raikkonen and ricciardo and hit ricciardo and got a penalty, and honestly deserved more than 1.

      He also tends to start badly in the rain, example hungary 2020, again hamilton got off well, bottas terribly.

    2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      1st August 2021, 20:14

      @qeki this was nothing more serious than Leclerc, Verstappen and others have done over the past 20 races…

      Valtteri is a class act for apologizing as he ruined many teams’ races. He just misjudged the braking zone which had a domino effect.

    3. It wasn’t that big of a mistake, just had big consequences

      1. @pastaman Maybe it wasn’t such a huge mistake but it was the first lap and all those crashes made it look worse than it was.

  4. Yes it was his mistake, but Norris going past and going blocking his view would have cost him some loss of downforce and also a loss of his reference into the corner. It happened too quick for him to react.

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      1st August 2021, 21:48

      He had 2 – 3 seconds after he backed off from Norris squeezing him towards Perez. But he kept going while Norris ahead (and the others) lifted. He did have more time to react.

      However, what most people didn’t seem to notice is just how aggressive Norris was. Before he was fully past Norris, he jerked right, and bottas had to back off or he will have been sandwiched between Norris and Perez and a collision close to the scale of the one in the first corner likely will have occurred, which will have been totally down to Norris. I feel sorry for the red bull drivers, but less so for Norris as his move was very aggressive and could have gone very wrong had Bottas not backed off.

      1. This is by far the dumbest post I ever read on this site, what are you on about?:)

      2. Wow this is an incredibly wrong analysis, I am baffled Sir

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          2nd August 2021, 10:26

          @jeorge and Serban

          I made 2 mistakes that may have confused things. I said Norris jerked right when he consistently went left, but at a rather sharp angle. jerked was the wrong word. The other mistake was calling Norris Bottas at one stage. The evidence I have in this post for what I mean though is going to make both of these comments look as bad or worse than you both saw mine.

          Here is something to make it much more clear:

          Can you not see Norris take quite an obvious angle towards Bottas when it was obvious Perez was on the other side, without really taking into account that Bottas was still there? As I said, it literally was because of Bottas lifting that he wasn’t squeezed and there will have been contact. This contact could have resulted in one, two or all 3 drivers getting damage and losing control on the straight, which likely also will have caused other cars to get involved.

          Here is a video mentioning that Bottas lifted, and also showing that Norris does indeed come across rather aggressively, which would have caused a collision without Bottas lifting.

          The video also shows that (guess what!), Bottas has 2 – 3 seconds after he got squeezed by Norris to react to everything ahead, but he failed to do so. This is also what I said above. Bottas was responsible for everything after this. But Rosberg also said that he probably was a bit distracted by that squeeze by Norris that that made him lose focus and not think where to brake considering the conditions. So 2 commentators have noticed the squeeze by Norris so other than me incorrectly mixing up a few words, I don’t think anything is “dumb” or “incredibly wrong” about my analysis….

          1. You do realize this is what racing is all about?this is f1, saying that either Noris or Perez did something wrong is indeed wrong analysis, I’m not having a go at you, I’ve watched the replay’s a hundred times I think, and imho Bottas is the only one responsible.

        2. Norris was a passenger 100%. BTW, Jeorge is a noob.

    2. Your remark indicates he does not belong in F1. Maybe some other category are suitable for him, but this is clearly above his level. Especially in a car that is way smoother to drive than say a Williams this is just crazy and imho a complex construction to keep Hamilton happy by having a mediocre team mate.

  5. The penalty was nowhere near harsh enough. Appropriate would’ve been a 10 place drop and 3 penalty points.
    It’s really amateur-hour stuff from Bottas, but fair play to him for admitting his mistake.

    1. …and that 5 grid place penalty is really going to hurt @ Spa. 😉

    2. Won’t matter in a Mercedes. But would give a statement to the other drivers (bar Lewis)

    3. I don’t understand how Geosjean wiping out the field is a race ban but Bottas wiping out the field is a 5 place grid penalty

  6. Hungaroring’s Turn 1? You mean Ramp.

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