Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas felt he was undone by strategy as win in F1 70th Anniversary GP was possible but Toto Wolff reckons it wasn’t there’s.
Heading into the F1 70th Anniversary GP at Silverstone, there was little question that Mercedes would win. And, though some had the foresight to know that Max Verstappen could disrupt them on his alternate strategy, their pace seemed nonetheless unrivaled.
That was, until the eleventh lap of the race, at which point it became evident that the tyre degradation levels on the Mercedes’ were catastrophic, as large blisters were spotted on the rear tyres of both cars of Lewis Hamilton and Bottas.
Strategically, this almost immediate destruction of tyres posed a large challenge to Mercedes, who were forced to pit their leading driver Bottas on Lap 13, and once more on Lap 33 – the very same lap as Verstappen, who he had been overtaken by in the first round of pit stops.
Bottas argued he could have maintained his lead had he been instructed to push in the aforementioned first round of stops, as he had pace in hand and could have used it to build up a substantial margin to his pursuer – one that wouldn’t have been so easily diminished by the Dutchman.
This was one mistake of many – including pitting with Verstappen – that Bottas says denied him what looked to be a sure win this Sunday. “The win should have been possible,” he said. “When Max got ahead of me, I had no information to push harder, so we ended up pretty much side-by-side when he pitted.
“If I had known before — I could have picked up my pace, I had pace in hand. So obviously, I lost track position there, and then the last stint was too long for me. Obviously, Lewis went longer in his middle stint, but for me the strategy was sub-optimal.
“At the end of the race, I said I didn’t quite understand what happened. Red Bull, Max, they were able to drive without blisters on the red tyres, while for me and Lewis we had lots of blistering. There was a difference there.
“Starting from pole and finishing third is not ideal. I think as a team we were sleeping at some point, when Max managed to get ahead of us, and my strategy was far, far from ideal, so lots to learn,” summed up Bottas.
Mercedes team boss Wolff, meanwhile, controverted that anything more could have been done by his team to give their drivers a win, suggesting instead that the W11 was too severely disadvantaged by the August heat.
“No, the win was not there for us,” said Wolff, surely. “Clearly we were not the fastest car. When you have such a margin that Max had, then it was ours to settle for second and third and to protect these positions for this weekend.
“We’ve seen that we have this deficit in very hot track temperatures. That was the case, and we got the confirmation. We were not able to hold onto the tyres because of blistering, and Max was setting ‘green’ times all the time – that means he is going faster. That is something we need to get on top of, and understand,” summed up the Mercedes boss.
Wolff also defended the strategy call to get Bottas in. He, however, admitted that the Finn’s data helped them to keep Hamilton out longer and so it worked better for the Brit but insisted that race win wasn’t there as Verstappen was already too far ahead.
Here’s how F1 70th Anniversary GP panned out