Bahrain GP: Mercedes Explain Reason Behind Bottas’ F1 Pitstop Fail

Published 04/01/2021, 4:20 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – Bahrain Grand Prix – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain – Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas in action during the race REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed


Valtteri Bottas would have been looking to get his 2021 season off to a solid start as he goes for his goal of winning a World Championship. However, in his bid to challenge Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen for the race win in Bahrain, Bottas was scuppered by a slow pit stop that saw him finish 37 seconds behind race-winner Hamilton. Given that such blunders are not the norm for the team, Mercedes Technical Director James Allison explained what went wrong.

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The incident happened on lap 30 of the race as he looked to undercut race leader Verstappen. However, the Finn wouldn’t have dreamed of what happened next; he was a victim of a pitstop that took nearly 10 seconds.

This resulted in him falling behind Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc, fighting past them to finish in a lonely third place. His only consolation was grabbing the point for the fastest lap in the race.

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Allison explains what went wrong with the pit stop of Valtteri Bottas

In a video, James Allison explained what went wrong with the pit stop. He said, “When the car came into the pit stop box, Valtteri [Bottas] came in very neatly, positioned the car neatly and well, which is always a help for the pit crew.

“But, sadly one of the gun men went onto the wheel, started to disengage the nut, loosen the nut but then started to withdraw the wheel gun just a little bit too soon before the nut had spun off its thread.”

“And because it was still offering some resistance at that point, as he withdrew the wheel gun, the socket on the wheel gun started to disengage from the nut and then started to spin around.

“We call it machining the nut because it chips away at the edges of the nut, destroying the nut. A bit like when you’re using a screwdriver and you don’t have it lined up properly, you start to kinda damage the screwdriver.”

The Brit explained how on trying to recover, the gunman actually made things worse. He said, “So as he pulled away, the gun machined away at the nut and the wheel didn’t come off its mountings. He went back in to deal with it but the gun is designed to recognize it’s done a gunning off action and it automatically shuttles the gun so that it’s then in doing up mode.

So, when he went back on to finish the job of taking the wheel nut off, the gun is now in doing up mode and instead of undoing the nut, it was doing it up again.

“And the subsequent follow-on mess of that was what causes something which is normally a beautiful two-second pit stop, causes it to then collapse into something that hemorrhages lap time.”

Should the Finn feel cheated?

Bottas will definitely feel that he missed on an opportunity there through no fault of his own. If the pit stop had gone as planned, it could have resulted in the Finn potentially competing for a race win.

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Bottas is in the most important season of his career. He needs to make a decision on whether he should be the low-key company man, or he should become the alpha dog in possibly his final year in a title-winning car.

He could look at the example of his predecessor Nico Rosberg, who exited the sport in the best way possible. If he decides to embrace the alpha in him, it could make the 2021 season a very interesting one indeed.

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More – WATCH: Toto Wolff Dismisses Valtteri Bottas in Mercedes’ Bahrain GP Celebration

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Ashish Thomas

211 articles

Ashish Thomas is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. Having followed motorsports since age 5, Ashish holds an enviable knowledge of F1 history. Ashish holds extensive experience in sports writing, having previously worked for SportsQuest and Fansided.

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