Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Sochi Autodrom, 2021

Bottas says delay behind Hamilton cost him second dry lap attempt

2021 Russian Grand Prix

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Valtteri Bottas said he lost the opportunity to do a second flying lap on dry tyres in qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix because of the time he lost waiting for his team mate’s car to be repaired.

Mercedes were one of the later teams to make the change to dry tyres during the final phase of qualifying on a slowly drying track. Bottas pitted after team mate Lewis Hamilton, who required a front wing change after hitting the pit wall on his way in.

While Mercedes mechanics pushed Hamilton’s car out of the way so Bottas could be released, Bottas was only able to enjoy a single representative push lap on the soft compound tyres, leaving him in seventh on the grid for tomorrow’s race.

Bottas says he feels he would have been able to improve on his result had he not been held up behind his team mate and had the opportunity of a second hot lap on the soft tyres.

“I need to review, but I think we came in maybe a bit late,” Bottas explained.

“Some others came in earlier for the slicks and we had the issue in the pit lane with Lewis’s car, so we missed having two laps – we only had one and you need more than one lap to get the tyres to work. So I think a second lap would have been quite a big step. I think that’s the biggest difference and disappointment today.”

The Mercedes driver says his dry tyres were only just coming up to their target operating range by the time Bottas completed his final flying lap.

“It felt really snappy,” he says. “Still the tyres were not up to temperature and that was the big issue. I just couldn’t really lean on the tyre.

“It was getting better and better throughout the end of the lap, I feel. But then there was a chequered flag.”

With Lando Norris, Carlos Sainz Jnr and George Russell securing the top three places on the grid having pitted for dry tyres earlier than Mercedes, Bottas believes the team should examine why they were among the last teams to make the call for dry tyres.

“When we came in, that was the first lap that I started to think ‘actually it could be slicks’,” Bottas explains.

“Then they asked me and I said, ‘yeah, let’s box’. We have to review – the discussion should have been earlier, that was my feeling. But I think the big issue was the waiting in the pit lane. I mean, that’s when we lost the having two laps instead of one and that cost us quite a lot.”

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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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8 comments on “Bottas says delay behind Hamilton cost him second dry lap attempt”

  1. I’m surprised Merc didn’t have spare front wings at hand, given the wet conditions & likelihood of incidents

    Lewis shouldn’t have been stationary for more than about 15-20 seconds really

    1. yeah. obviously this was Lewis’ fault, but I feel like Mercedes could have mitigated the consequences.

      Lewis stayed in for about two minutes? they could have easily done the swap in 20 seconds tops and he still would have got two laps in (probably Bottas too)

    2. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
      25th September 2021, 16:59

      It was a facepalm moment seeing them roll him in front to allow Bottas to go, then roll him back again. I don’t think the driver in the adjacent team would have been able to box comfortably had he been pitting.

      They do keep the wings outside. But being the first garage and with 3 minutes left, they hardly had any time to react to both cars. You are mentally prepared to change tires, but all of a sudden the car whacks the wall merely seconds before pitting. It was a mess, but they did okay to send them both out to be able to do at least one lap. Lewis just made it with 10 seconds left.

      He should have never hit the wall in the first place to initiate the whole cascade.

      1. He should have never hit the wall in the first place to initiate the whole cascade.

        Precisely. Without that incident, it would have bean a Mercedes 1-2, just as it was before the change of tires. They still can get back to the top spots in the race.

    3. I’m sure they had a front wing, I saw plenty wings around, perhaps they had to be sure it was an identical front wing.
      Toto says Ham’s mistake had no bearing on bottas’ qualifying…

  2. the discussion should have been earlier, that was my feeling

    Why didn’t he initiate it then? Totally fed up with the strategy team and just don’t bother anymore?

  3. It seems that Mercedes has spend so long dominating they have forgotten how to make good strategic decisions.

    Their management from the wall has not been anywhere near as sharp as it’s been over the past few seasons and they just keep tossing away advantages.

    They had the lap on the board after their first run. Surely it was a no brainer to get in early and put on slicks – like other teams did.

    Ultimately when they did, and Hamilton hit the wall, they spend an inordinate amount of time dithering – something that has been rare for that team. Seriously bad form for them and it could end up costing them a championship.

  4. Mercedes team definitely well down on their usual slick efficiency this season.
    Far too many tactical call errors. LH string of errors.
    LH & TW both under “pressure” for CWC & WDC?
    Only cool one is VB now that his future is established!

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