Formula 1

Mercedes’ Toto Wolff: “For our team, it was another bittersweet race”

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Credit: LAT Images

Toto Wolff says the Bahrain Grand Prix was a ‘bittersweet’ race for the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team, with Valtteri Bottas suffering more bad luck as he finished a lowly eighth whereas Lewis Hamilton stormed to another race victory.

Hamilton took his eleventh victory of the season, and his fifth in a row, with a dominant display at the Bahrain International Circuit, with the seven-time World Champion having good pace throughout to deny Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen the win.

Bottas, however, was hampered early by a puncture that left him towards the back of the field.  He fought back to eighth, although he was lucky the safety car was called upon again at the end of the race as he suffered a second puncture!

Wolff, the Team Principal of Mercedes, says he expects Bottas to come back fighting across the final two races of 2020 as he bids to lock down second in the Drivers’ Championship, and he has no doubts the Finn will be a stronger driver next year.

“For our team, it was another bittersweet race; on the one hand, I’m very happy for the team and Lewis,” said Wolff.  “The car showed strong performance today and the strategy team was on its A game.

“Unfortunately, Valtteri had more bad luck this weekend with his puncture. We need to find a way to break the pattern of him losing races for reasons that are beyond his control. Valtteri could have won a few more races this year and it’s just a shame that he needs to cope with these results.

“But it will make him stronger and now he just needs to give his best in these last two races and secure P2 in the championship. I have no doubt that next year will be very strong for him.”

Wolff says Mercedes-Benz will look into the reasons why Sergio Pérez’s engine appeared to fail in the closing laps in Bahrain, with the BWT Racing Point Formula One Team driver on course for a second consecutive podium until the failure.

“I’m also sorry for the disappointment of Racing Point, but happy that Lance [Stroll] escaped unhurt,” said Wolff.  “We need to analyse what happened on Sergio’s car and investigate to make sure we can avoid these DNFs in the future.”

Hamilton Managed Bahrain Grand Prix ‘Brilliantly’ – Andrew Shovlin

Andrew Shovlin, the Track engineer director at Mercedes, says Hamilton managed the Bahrain Grand Prix ‘brilliantly’ to secure the win, particularly as they came into race day knowing that Red Bull appeared to have the advantage when it came to tyre allocations.

Verstappen’s car had one additional set of the hard compound tyre compared to Hamilton, and the Dutchman used those tyres to the best of his ability but still came up short against the World Champion.

“Congratulations to Lewis, he managed the race brilliantly and was just about able to keep it under control, but the extra Hard tyre that Red Bull carried into the race left us with a bit of a weakness,” said Shovlin.  

“The final stint was a bit awkward as there were moments in the race where a Safety Car would have been difficult to manage; however, by the time the Safety Car did come towards the end, we knew the race wouldn’t restart so we kept Lewis out on his old tyres.”

Like Wolff, Shovlin felt Bottas had the bad luck in Bahrain, with a bad start putting him down the order before a puncture just after the restart left him at the back of the pack.  He felt the bigger wing Mercedes race with hindered Bottas when it came to passing the midfield pack, and it was slower going in making the gains than anyone would have wanted.

“Valtteri had more than his fair share of bad luck; he had a poor getaway from the grid which just looks like it was low grip on the P2 spot, there wasn’t anything obviously wrong with the start itself,” said Shovlin. “He then picked up a front right puncture on the opening lap after the restart, so we had no choice but to stop and that dropped him to the back.

“The recovery from there was a bit difficult, we’re clearly carrying a bigger wing than most and it was tricky to get through the cars quickly. To top his day off, he picked up another puncture towards the end of the race, so he’ll no doubt be looking forward to a less eventful race next week.

“We’ve got the short circuit to contend with and a few areas that we need to be looking to improve, but it should be an interesting challenge.”

Lewis Hamilton took the win on Sunday in Bahrain, his eleventh in fifteen races – Credit: LAT Images
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Thirty-something motorsport fanatic, covering Formula 1, Formula Renault 2.0 and Formula 3. Feel free to give him a follow on Twitter at @Paul11MSport.
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