Valtteri Bottas couldn’t believe what happened in F1 Monaco GP but won’t blame the team, as James Allison and Toto Wolff chip in.
Pre-Monaco GP, Mercedes’ Bottas finally had some luck towards his way, with the DNS for Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. There was some hope that he would gain some points lost to teammate Lewis Hamilton after a DNF in Imola, by finishing at least second.
However, that hope was undone eventually when he stopped for the first time. The front-right wheel nut got jammed and that was it for Bottas in F1 Monaco GP. In fact, Allison revealed that the wheel is still attached to the car, on its way to Brackley.
For Bottas, it was counting down his rivals while sat in the car and the ‘not believable’ moment then. Despite the hardships, he doesn’t wish to put the blame on the team, but adds that talks will happen behind the scenes to sort this problem.
“From my side, I was basically…I mean, it was a slow pit stop,” started Bottas. “And then in the car, I was like, Sainz getting by and then Norris. It then came down to 30s or something, I couldn’t believe it. Obviously, it is hugely disappointing and a situation that we need to make sure that it never happens again. It was a big mistake.
“Sometimes I do think [why it happens with me always]. And no, I am not upset with the team. I think, it is bad luck. I have never had that before and never finished the race in a pit stop, I think, so it is quite strange, I don’t know how that can happen. Yes, pit stops haven’t been great this year and there will have to be changes going forward.
“Its not been the strongest point for us but there is no one to blame. We just need to better,” summed up Bottas, who lost a good chance to recover some points on Hamilton, who only managed seventh in the end – would have been eighth if not for the Finn’s DNF.
From the team side, Allison had some explanation on the matter, while noting about the current situation. “We eventually didn’t get the wheel off,” he said. “It’s sat in our garage with the wheels still on it. It will have to be ground off, get a Dremel out of a rotary tool and painfully slice through the remnants of the wheel nut. We’ll do that back at the factory.
“It was a more extreme repeat of the thing we’ve talked about in public before. It is that if we don’t quite get the pit stop gun cleanly on the nut, then it can chip away at the driving faces of the nut – we call it machining the nut. It’s a little bit like when you take a Phillips head screwdriver and you don’t get it squarely in the cross of the screwdriver and you start to round off the driving face of the screwdriver slots.
“And then you just simply can’t take the screw out of whatever it is you’re trying to take it out of, because you’ve no longer got the driving faces. If the gun starts spinning and chipping off the driving faces of the wheel nut, then in quite short order, given the violence and the power of the gun, you can end up with no driving faces and you’ve just machined the nut down to a place where there’s nothing left to grab hold of.
“That’s what we had,” summed up Allison, as his boss Wolff then carried on with the screwdriver example and noted that they will have to review it certainly. “As we know, there are many factors that contribute to a failure,” said the Austrian. “We need to review the design, we need to look at the material on our wheel, but because the mechanics that operate the wheel nuts, need to do in a way that you can’t machine it off.
“As a matter of fact, one mechanic that did that is one of the best and the fittest in terms of the pit stop speed, that the team has. So, things are always complicated, it is never one thing, it’s always multi-faceted,” Wolff stated.
Here’s how F1 Monaco GP panned out