Mercedes: Bottas' slow start likely down to grip, not clutch

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Mercedes: Bottas' slow start likely down to grip, not clutch
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Co-author: Adam Cooper
May 15, 2019, 10:59 AM

Mercedes believes the poor start that Valtteri Bottas felt cost him victory in Formula 1’s Spanish Grand Prix was caused by a lack of grip, not a car problem.

Bottas reported some “strange” clutch behaviour immediately after Sunday’s race, having crucially lost his pole position advantage to teammate Lewis Hamilton at the first corner. 

He said the team was still investigating the start on Sunday evening, and while Mercedes will continue to take “a good look” at it this week the team believes it was simply a matter of grip. 

In the team’s latest post-race video debrief, Mercedes sporting director Ron Meadows said: “We believe it was just a lack of grip on the pole position side. 

“If you look at the support races, more often that not the second position guy or even third or fourth had a better start than the pole guy.”

Trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said: “Yeah, that’s one of the elements. 

“You get a bit of wheelspin and then the wheels are slipping, the clutch is slipping, there’s a bit of an interaction. 

“We’re going to get all the bits and have a good look at them anyway this week to understand it. 

“At the moment we think the number one issue is with the grip and not an issue with the car.”

Bottas felt that unlike in the Chinese Grand Prix, when he also made a poor start and lost victory to Hamilton as a result, he had done nothing wrong in Spain.

He said after Sunday’s race that China was “a bit more my own fault” but that this time he “wouldn’t do anything different”. 

Despite having some wheelspin on a practice start that gave “hints” of the behaviour he experienced at the race start, Bottas insisted “I’ve never had this kind of feeling before”. 

“We can definitely see the vibration on the clutch and the abnormal behaviour, which cost me that few crucial metres on the way to Turn 1,” said Bottas.

“I kind of felt it just by G-force, it was going up and down, and the whole car was vibrating, and we can already see from the data that because of that my hand and the car was vibrating as well. 

“It was with very high friction, biting and releasing, so I lost quite a few metres with that in the initial part. The rest of the start was pretty good.”

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