Why Bottas faced impossible task to come through field in Sochi

The Mercedes Formula 1 team says that cooler conditions on race day in Russia made it harder for Valtteri Bottas to come through the field after taking a grid penalty.

Why Bottas faced impossible task to come through field in Sochi
Listen to this article

Bottas took a new power unit for Sunday’s race, and moved back to 16th on the grid, ahead only of other drivers who had taken penalties – including Max Verstappen in 20th.

While the change was necessary after the Finn suffered an issue with his newest engine on Friday, it also opened up a tactical opportunity for him to cover and possible compromise Verstappen’s expected progress through the field.

However Bottas was overtaken by Verstappen after just six laps. While the Dutchman continued to gain positions, Bottas found himself stuck, and unable to repeat the charge to third place that he made in Monza.

Before the rain hit in the closing stages of the race Verstappen was running seventh, while Bottas was languishing in 14th. However an early change to intermediates saw him jump up to fifth at the flag.

“It was lot more difficult for me than I thought it would be, just to come through the field. I thought it was going to be like in Monza, but it was a lot more difficult,” he said.

“Like Max for example, he was able to progress much better than me. I don't know. Mainly what I struggled with was big understeer, and this was when I got close and I couldn't get to overtaking distance.”

Asked if he could have done more to hold back Verstappen he said: “He was just able to really come through the field.

“I need to have a look if there was more I could have done but I think he passed me pretty easily. I think he then overtook the cars ahead of me, and I had no chance.”

 

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Mercedes trackside engineer director Andrew Shovlin explained that the understeer was encouraged by lower temperatures on race day, and that compromised Bottas’s chances of staying close to rivals ahead.

“Principally that the cooler conditions the front tyres were having a tough time,” he explained. “We were understeering a bit. Whereas on Friday, the rears were really the axle that was suffering the most, here it was the front.

“And when you can't follow in those last four corners, then you can't get close enough to overtake, but it was really down to car balance. I think the cooler conditions are actually making it more difficult, rather than easier.”

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, who was heard giving Bottas a hurry up on the radio, admitted that the team could have done more,

“I think we need to provide Valtteri with a car and power unit that can make him overtake,” he said. “You've seen that he's not lacking the ability because Monza was spectacular.

“It's just here for whatever reason, you have seen with Lewis at the beginning that our car was struggling with understeer, if you struggle with understeer, you're not getting close enough.

“And Lewis couldn't overtake the guys in front of him and the same happened to Valtteri. So I think we just need to know really understand why the car lacked competitiveness in traffic, and felt good in free air.”

shares
comments

Related video

Ferrari reluctant to quantify time gain in upgraded F1 power unit
Previous article

Ferrari reluctant to quantify time gain in upgraded F1 power unit

Next article

How Sainz turned crash streak into his best Ferrari F1 weekend so far

How Sainz turned crash streak into his best Ferrari F1 weekend so far
The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants Prime

The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants

OPINION: Mercedes endured its worst season of the hybrid Formula 1 era, but was mercifully spared its first winless campaign in over a decade late on. It has owned up to the mistakes it made which led to its troubled W13. And while its task to return to title-challenging contention is not small, its 2022 season seems more like a blip than the beginning of a downward spiral.

The physical focus bringing out the best from Esteban Ocon Prime

The physical focus bringing out the best from Esteban Ocon

Esteban Ocon likes to point out he’s the first driver since Lewis Hamilton to emerge from a spell as Fernando Alonso’s teammate with a superior overall points record. While some may disagree, as LUKE SMITH discovered, the 2021 Hungarian GP winner reckons it’s not just luck which has made him France’s pre-eminent Formula 1 driver of the moment…

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2022
How Red Bull's dynamic leader Mateschitz shaped its F1 philosophy Prime

How Red Bull's dynamic leader Mateschitz shaped its F1 philosophy

The death of Dietrich Mateschitz last month has not only deprived Red Bull of its visionary founder, it has shorn Formula 1 of one of its most influential benefactors. Mateschitz himself was famously media-shy, preferring to let the brand do the talking on his behalf. And, while it’s now normal to speak of Red Bull F1 titles and champions made, Mateschitz never assumed it would be easy or even possible – as ANTHONY ROWLINSON discovered during this previously unpublished interview from 2006…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2022
Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom? Prime

Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom?

OPINION: Teams that have dominated for long periods throughout Formula 1's history often take years to get back to the top of the tree once they've slipped down. But it remains to be seen whether the same will happen to Mercedes after a challenging 2022 season

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2022
What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi Prime

What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi

Arguably the favourite in the battle to finish second-best in 2022's Formula 1 standings, Sergio Perez's two-stop strategy at Abu Dhabi couldn't take him ahead of Charles Leclerc when the music stopped - and several key factors ultimately precluded him from the much-coveted runner-up spot.

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2022
The Abu Dhabi momentum that can propel Leclerc and Ferrari to F1 2023 success Prime

The Abu Dhabi momentum that can propel Leclerc and Ferrari to F1 2023 success

OPINION: Charles Leclerc achieved his target of sealing runner-up in the 2022 world championship with a masterful drive behind Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi. And that race contained key elements that may help him, and Ferrari, go one better in Formula 1 2023

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2022
2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Driver Ratings Prime

2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Driver Ratings

The 2022 Formula 1 season came to a close at the Yas Marina Circuit, where the battle for second in the standings was decided, the wins in a season record extended and a retiring four-time world champion bowed out on a high. Here's how we rated the drivers

Formula 1
Nov 21, 2022
The factors that stopped Perez catching Leclerc in Verstappen's Abu Dhabi triumph Prime

The factors that stopped Perez catching Leclerc in Verstappen's Abu Dhabi triumph

Max Verstappen ended the 2022 Formula 1 season in fitting fashion with a dominant drive to victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. But behind him, early season rival Charles Leclerc achieved his target of securing the runner-up spot with a well-executed a one-stop strategy to beat Sergio Perez, whose pursuit on a two-stop strategy was hampered by several critical factors

Formula 1
Nov 21, 2022