Mercedes F1 Director Explains Why They Made the Costly Error of Not Pitting Valtteri Bottas Earlier

Valtteri Bottas had another difficult weekend at the Qatar Grand Prix. Bottas had initially finished in P3 in qualifying but started the race in P6 after his penalties. But the Finn did not get a good start and dropped back in the field. To compound his misery, his tire blew after 33 laps on the hard tires. Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin explains why they did not pit Bottas earlier.

Bottas, despite his poor start, had a shot at finishing P3 in the race. He had to out-drive and outsmart Fernando Alonso, who was occupying the P3 slot.

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Shovlin explains why they delayed in pitting Valtteri Bottas

In the post-race debrief, Shovlin mentioned the team was managing Valtteri’s race against Alonso. But in their eagerness to over-cut the two-time world champion, the Finn suffered a heartbreaking puncture on his hard tires.

” Specifically, we were trying to clear Alonso. He was on relatively fresh hard tires in our pit window. Valtteri was faster, he was finding a few tenths a lap and if we had stayed out three or four laps, we would have been able to build that window to Alonso.

Formula One F1 – Qatar Grand Prix – Losail International Circuit, Lusail, Qatar – November 21, 2021, Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas in action REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

Pit Valtteri for fresh hard tires and drop out in front. So that was the plan. Now, as you saw, we had that puncture. The timing of that was really unfortunate. Valtteri felt it about the time we were seeing it on the data. But it was too late to get into the pit lane, so we had the full lap to do.” said Shovlin.

Eventually, Bottas had to retire from the race. It not only cost the Finn in his quest to finish P3 in the driver’s championship but also cost Mercedes in the constructor’s battle.

Red Bull was able to cut down the deficit to just 5 points in the constructors’ championship. With just two races to go, Mercedes would hope that Bottas can get back into form and help the German team win their 8th consecutive championship.

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