Mercedes made “wrong decision” on Spanish GP strategy

The Mercedes Formula 1 team says it made a “wrong decision” on strategy in the Spanish Grand Prix, costing Valtteri Bottas a shot at passing Max Verstappen for second place.

Chief strategist James Vowles admits that a window briefly opened that could have allowed Bottas to jump ahead of Red Bull driver Verstappen if he pitted, but the team didn’t take the opportunity, and the Finn ultimately had to settle for third.

Bottas had made a poor start from second on the grid, and he was passed by both Verstappen and the Racing Point of Lance Stroll.

He lost time and took some life out of his tyres fighting past Stroll, before focussing on catching up with Verstappen ahead.

Read Also:

“Once Valtteri was back in P3, we were reviewing options, and there were really only two on the table,” Vowles said in a Mercedes video.

“The first is to go longer, force Verstappen into an early stop, make sure he covers you and then go much longer than him, and do an overcut and overtake on track.

“The second is obviously the undercut, the one that is most known about, but to do that you need to be very, very close to the car in front and on the first stint, we simply weren’t there. We were dropping off the tyre curves and we weren’t able to get close enough to Verstappen.

“Understandably so, Valtteri had been fighting through traffic to get up to that point and had lost a little bit more of the shine outside the tyre.

“On stint two, there was an opportunity for an undercut, a very small one. It appeared for a lap and that was it, and it was very marginal to take a medium and then undercut.

“But it existed. We debated it, it was definitely an option that we went through on the pit wall, but there were also options we felt by going longer, and it was really balancing those two.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes F1 W11 EQ Performance

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes F1 W11 EQ Performance

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

“There was a bit of a distraction of a thunderstorm that was taking place nearby and the concern as to whether that could maybe push across the circuit. All of that combined meant we left that opportunity on the table and went for the long stint.

“Wrong decision I think, in hindsight, I think we had an opportunity to undercut, just on that one lap around lap 39. Either way, Valtteri did a sterling job trying to recover, and did a brilliant job getting back into the P3.”

Bottas took the soft tyre at his second and final stop, and the team harboured hopes that he would have the pace to attack Verstappen, who had pitted seven laps earlier.

“At the end of the race when Verstappen took the medium, it made somewhat sense to also offset ourselves on compound to him,” said Vowles. “The temperatures had come down, the track was cooling, and we felt it could give us our best opportunity.

“But the reality is, on the model, both the medium and the soft looked like we had an opportunity to overtake and pass him.

“As Valtteri got back out, we were surprised that the times weren’t quite where they needed to be and Valtteri was having to do a lot of protection of that tyre to stop it overheating.

“More than we had anticipated and ultimately, the pace wasn’t strong enough with that tyre in order to get the overtake.”

shares
comments
Pirelli postpones FP2 tests with 2021 F1 tyres

Previous article

Pirelli postpones FP2 tests with 2021 F1 tyres

Next article

Does Kimi Raikkonen deserve to stay in F1 next year?

Does Kimi Raikkonen deserve to stay in F1 next year?
Load comments
Why dumping the MGU-H is the right move for F1 Prime

Why dumping the MGU-H is the right move for F1

OPINION: With its days apparently numbered, the MGU-H looks set to be dropped from Formula 1’s future engine rules in order to entice new manufacturers in. While it may appear a change of direction, the benefits for teams and fans could make the decision a worthwhile call

Formula 1
Sep 23, 2021
The floundering fortunes of F1’s many Lotus reboots Prime

The floundering fortunes of F1’s many Lotus reboots

Team Lotus ceased to exist in 1994 - and yet various parties have been trying to resurrect the hallowed name, in increasingly unrecognisable forms, ever since. Damien Smith brings GP Racing’s history of the legendary team to an end with a look at those who sought to keep the flame alive in Formula 1.

Formula 1
Sep 22, 2021
Why the 2021 title fight is far from F1's worst, despite its toxic background Prime

Why the 2021 title fight is far from F1's worst, despite its toxic background

OPINION: Formula 1 reconvenes for the Russian Grand Prix two weeks after the latest blow in ‘Max Verstappen vs Lewis Hamilton’. While the Silverstone and Monza incidents were controversial, they thankfully lacked one element that so far separates the 2021 title fight from the worst examples of ugly championship battles

Formula 1
Sep 22, 2021
How Mika Hakkinen thrived at Lotus Prime

How Mika Hakkinen thrived at Lotus

Mika Hakkinen became Michael Schumacher’s biggest rival in Formula 1 in the late-90s and early 2000s, having also made his F1 debut in 1991. But as MARK GALLAGHER recalls, while Schumacher wowed the world with a car that was eminently capable, Hakkinen was fighting to make his mark with a famous team in terminal decline

Formula 1
Sep 21, 2021
The forgotten F1 comeback that began Jordan’s odyssey  Prime

The forgotten F1 comeback that began Jordan’s odyssey 

Before Michael Schumacher – or anyone else – had driven the 191 (or 911 as it was initially called), Eddie Jordan turned to a fellow Irishman to test his new Formula 1 car. JOHN WATSON, a grand prix winner for Penske and McLaren, recalls his role in the birth of a legend…

Formula 1
Sep 20, 2021
The squandered potential of a 70s F1 underdog Prime

The squandered potential of a 70s F1 underdog

A podium finisher in its first outing but then never again, the BRM P201 was a classic case of an opportunity squandered by disorganisation and complacency, says Stuart Codling.

Formula 1
Sep 18, 2021
The other notable Monza escape that F1 should learn from Prime

The other notable Monza escape that F1 should learn from

OPINION: The headlines were dominated by the Italian Grand Prix clash between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, who had the halo to thank for avoiding potentially serious injury. But two days earlier, Formula 1 had a lucky escape with a Monza pitlane incident that could also have had grave consequences.

Formula 1
Sep 17, 2021
How Monza only added more questions to F1's sprint race conundrum Prime

How Monza only added more questions to F1's sprint race conundrum

With two sprint races under its belt, Formula 1 must now consider its options for them going forward. While they've helped deliver exciting racing on Sundays, the sprints themselves have been somewhat lacking - creating yet another conundrum for F1 to solve...

Formula 1
Sep 16, 2021