(Motorsport-Total.com) – Valtteri Bottas suffered the next setback at the Formula 1 race in Barcelona. The Finn lost further ground in the world championship fight with Lewis Hamilton because he could only finish third on Sunday. There were several reasons for this, which Mercedes attributes to both the driver’s and the team’s mistakes.
The sticking point was of course the start, when Bottas dropped from second to fourth place behind Lance Stroll. The bad start was caused by two things, according to chief strategist James Vowles. First: “His first reaction time was a little slower than that of Stroll, Verstappen and Lewis. He lost something there.”
And second: “The further ahead you are, the less you will be pulled by the cars in front of you. Stroll and Verstappen were able to take advantage of this to get alongside Valtteri. The start itself was competitive compared to the other three cars in terms of reaction time, but unfortunately the damage had already happened before. “
Undercut considered in both stints
After Bottas had worked his way up to third place, two options were on the table for Mercedes: Overcut and undercut against Max Verstappen. From the team’s point of view, an undercut was not possible. “You have to be very close to the car in front of you. And we weren’t in the first stint,” explains Vowles.
Because Bottas had to fight his way through traffic beforehand, the tire curve dropped too much and you couldn’t get close enough to Verstappen.
So it was decided to drive a little longer. Ideally, Verstappen would have been forced to stop early because he had to cover the position and then have driven significantly longer in order to overtake later on the track with fresh tires. But only two laps after Verstappen, Bottas also came into the pits – you didn’t want to lose too much time.
In the second stint, Bottas did not do an undercut either, although according to Vowles there would have been an opportunity. “But only a small one and only for a round,” as he says. “It was close to the medium, but it was possible. We talked about it and it was an option for us too. But we also saw options if we stayed outside longer. It was about balancing those two things.”
In addition, the rain threatened to hit the track. “All of this together ensured that we let this option slip by and opted for a longer stint. In retrospect you can say: wrong decision,” admits the strategist.
In the end, prefer medium instead of soft
Another mistake happened during the pit stop with the choice of tires. Bottas got the soft tires on, but in retrospect, medium would have been the better choice, Vowles thinks.
“When we make the decisions, we look at all the available data. We look at what happened in the first and second stint – and with both cars. We knew how they performed on each mix, how fast they did were what the lifespan looks like and whether they could have pushed in the end. We don’t just do that for ourselves, but for all opponents. “
In general, the soft tire was the faster for 19 laps. “If we compare the second stint on medium with the first stint on soft, then we were only a few tenths of a second away. That depends on the one hand on the management and on the other hand on the position. The tire made no big difference – and that in the comparison between new medium and used soft, “says Vowles.
And since Verstappen had gone into the medium, they wanted to do something different at Mercedes. “The temperatures went down, the track was cooler and we thought it would give us the best chance. But when Valtteri came out we were surprised that the times weren’t where they needed to be,” he said Strategist.
“He had to take great care of the tire so that it didn’t overheat – more than expected. In the end, the pace wasn’t strong enough to make the overtaking maneuver.” And Bottas had to be content with third place. His deficit in the World Cup is now 43 points.