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Formula 1

Did Mercedes let Bottas down in the 70th Anniversary GP?

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
4 min read

Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff has disagreed with driver Valtteri Bottas that the team was “sleeping” in its execution of the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, but added that “I accept his perspective”.

Poleman Bottas was displeased to finish third behind Red Bull driver Max Verstappen and the other Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton in the second Silverstone race, saying in the post-race interview that he felt “as a team we were sleeping at some points”.

He elaborated on his point to Sky later on, saying he felt he hadn’t got enough advance warning of an impending battle with Verstappen on pitlane exit and had been called in too early for his second stop.

“When Max got ahead of me I had no information to push harder,” Bottas said. “We ended up pretty much side by side when he pitted, and if I knew before that I could pick up my pace, I had some pace in hand.

Valtteri Bottas Mercedes Silverstone 2020

“So then obviously I lost the track position there and then the last stint was too long for me.

“So, obviously Lewis went longer in middle stint and it worked out better, so for me the strategy was sub-optimal.

“At the end of the race, I said I didn’t quite understand what happened. We’re still yet to have all the debriefs, for sure it’s going to be a good discussion but it’s just disappointing.”

Wolff, however, was convinced that “the win was not there for us and clearly we were not the fastest car”, and didn’t feel the team had erred with Bottas’s strategy.

“I just spoke to Valtteri and I don’t think we were sleeping, but I accept his perspective,” Wolff said.

“I think we just had the slower car today – again, you have to just admit that.

“His point was, should we have done the opposite to Max [and stayed out]?

“But as a matter of fact this wouldn’t have changed anything because Max would have come out with a fresh tyre, we would have continued with a tyre that wasn’t in the best state anymore. And he just pitted in front of us.

“So, not sure what we could have done better. Obviously he’s not in a happy place that he was P2 and Lewis in P3 [earlier in the race].

“But it was the learning that happened on track when we got Valtteri’s tyre in, we saw actually there was a lot of rubber left. And we extended Lewis’s stint – albeit [aware] that there were big vibrations. But a lot of rubber.

Max Verstappen Valtteri Bottas Silverstone 2020

“And, therefore, he was getting quicker and quicker, the more the rubber went down and that’s why we could extend the stint and eventually Lewis overtook Valtteri.

“It’s clear that he’s not happy. And I totally respect that. None of us are happy today with the result.”

Hamilton, however, made it clear that he was quite satisfied with the outcome, as he, like Wolff, felt a win was out of the question given Mercedes’ tyre situation.

The six-time champion now heads team-mate Bottas by 34 points, albeit with Verstappen having closed in to within 30 of the lead.

“I was trying to go for a one stop at the end but there was a lot of vibration with the tyres we had and I didn’t know if the tyre was going to last, if I was really honest,” Hamilton said.

“Not just with the rubber but a rear tyre blow-up through a corner was too big a risk to take, that would have been the end of the race so I think it was a good decision by the team [to bring me in].

Lewis Hamilton

“Max I think at the end was doing like [1m]29s and I couldn’t do that on the old tyre. So congratulations to him, he did a fantastic job.

“It was a fantastic race for me with the struggle we had keeping the car on track and not losing our cool and bringing it home and getting the points, I’m really happy with it.”

Asked about Mercedes’ prospects of winning the race, Hamilton told Sky: “I don’t know how. Could we have done better? For sure. If we had done a hard-medium-hard, maybe. But I still think they would’ve won.

“If you look at our tyres, even with management, we had this huge band on the left rear, no one else… well, at least the Red Bulls didn’t seem to have. That would’ve got in the way.”

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