For yet another time this season, Mercedes looked to be in a commanding position in a race, this time the Sakhir GP. Even more so after their closest rivals Red Bull and Ferrari had both lost a car.
However, an unusual double-stack pit stop with a good number of laps to go saw both Russell and Bottas come into the pits. The time delay and confusion was so much that the latter eventually lost out on valuable track positions.
Mercedes technical director James Allison has now highlighted why they did a double-stack pit stop at such a crucial juncture in the race. The reasons, when considered in hindsight, are quite simple and logical from the team’s perspective.
Speaking in the race debrief, Allison stated, “The reason we chose to do it is that Sakhir has a very rough surface to the asphalt. That rough surface eats away at the tires and makes them go slower with each passing lap.”
Owing to the late call, the pit crews had to adapt and adjust to the situations at hand. And while they were able to execute a good pit stop for Russell, the same could not be said for Bottas.
The 52-year-old continued and said, “We had not just a safety car worth of gap between us and the car in third place. We had a whole pit stop’s worth of free space behind us. And so there was a lot of time for us to come in and do a very relaxed pit stop with our first car and second car on the same lap.”
“There was a lot of time to get that pit stop executed, get safely back out onto the track and then be on fresh tires for the remainder of the race. And completely protected by any risk that we would be on old tires, with marauding competitors behind us on fresh rubber,” concluded Allison.
Following the botch-up, Bottas came in P5 under the safety car, while Russell had occupied the P1 spot in the interval. However, the Finn was still on the original and older set of hard tires.
As a result of that, the rubber kept chipping away and Bottas was unable to keep his race pace, while Russell also suffered a late puncture. So, it ultimately resulted in a horror show for the defending champions, as none of their drivers made it to the podium in the race.