Bottas faced with threat of grid drop for Abu Dhabi
The Mercedes Formula 1 team doesn’t yet know if Valtteri Bottas will need to take a grid penalty in Abu Dhabi after his retirement from the Brazilian GP with an engine issue.
The engine that he used in Interlagos will be returned to the HPP facility in Brixworth on Tuesday evening, and will stripped and analysed. A final decision on the plan for Abu Dhabi will be made early next week.
Bottas had to park up on lap 53 in Brazil after smoke was seen coming from the rear of the car over the previous lap.
“I think there was a bit of smoke,” he said. “I didn’t actually see the smoke myself, but they reported to me, but I couldn't feel any loss of power, just the engine switched off after Turn 3.”
Asked if he has any mileage left on his earlier engines should the Brazil unit be unusable, Bottas said: “To be confirmed. I doubt there's any miles left, but we’ll see.”
After the race Mercedes technical director James Allison said it was too early to know if the engine was salvageable.
“We don't know any more about it,” he said when asked by Motorsport.com. “We know that we had elevated oil consumption during the race that ran away very sharply - very sharply - about half a lap before we saw it expire. The engine stopped itself rather than expired in a heap.”
Both of Bottas' previous engines for the season have completed their planned schedule in terms of races – in effect they do seven race weekends each. Bottas has completed a lot of miles this year, and his only retirement before Brazil was due to his crash in Germany.
A Mercedes spokesman said of the used engines: “It doesn’t necessarily mean that they couldn’t do another [event], but that wouldn’t necessarily be preferred.”
Bottas had endured a difficult race in Brazil. Having planned on a one-stop strategy – and taken hard tyres in order to facilitate that – he was called in for a second time later in the race. He admitted that he was “a bit confused” at the change of strategy,
“At the start I didn't gain any positions,” he explained. “And it seemed like overtaking would be difficult, and to go long in the first stint I tried to save the tyres a bit. But still I think I was lacking a bit of pace in the first stint due to quite a bit of understeer, especially middle sector, and so I was dropping back behind further away than than ideal.
“So then I wanted to go on the hard tyre because I thought that's going to be maybe the only chance to go with a one-stop. I felt still that it could be possible, but we stopped to cover [Alex] Albon, I think.
“And from my side I was a bit confused when I questioned the stop. It's still a question mark if I could have made it to the end or not, in theory not. But I thought that would be the only chance really, so a bit tricky.”
Bottas spent part of the race behind Charles Leclerc, but was unable to find a way past the Ferrari. “They're quick on the straight so makes it tricky, but I think he was starting to struggle more and more. I still felt good with the tyre so it actually when I just had the engine failure, I was charging my battery again. It was pretty flat and there was not much left to do anything.
“So plan was to charge it for a bit, get it full and then attack again. It's not easy to get them for sure with their straightline speed, and he was defending well, he was always covering the inside.”
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