REVEALED: Why Mercedes F1 Ignored 2-Stop Strategy for Both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas

Published 07/01/2021, 2:41 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – Steiermark Grand Prix – Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Styria, Austria – June 27, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton with Valtteri Bottas after finishing second and third respectively REUTERS/Darko Vojinovic


Mercedes potentially made the mistake of opting against pitting Valtteri Bottas for the second time in France. And the Brackley outfit did end up amidst a similar situation in Styria. But, only this time, a second stop could have possibly shattered Bottas’ hopes of re-claiming P3 from Sergio Perez.

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It was the same for Lewis Hamilton as well, who, at one point, lost hopes on beating Max Verstappen. Hence, he pitted for the second time to secure the fastest lap point.

However, James Vowles, Mercedes’ strategy director, revealed that the team were constantly planning for a two-stop strategy with Bottas and Hamilton throughout the race.

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What did the Mercedes strategy director say?

Mercedes posted a video on YouTube, where Vowles responded to certain queries from the fans. One of them questioned why Lewis’s second pit-stop did not come earlier, possibly opening the floodgates to a late charge on Verstappen.

It was there as a consideration, not just for Lewis, but for Valtteri as well all the way through the race. The problem is that the undercut power there was fairly small, around a second and a half,” he said.

If you look at this race pace, you can see that, relative to Verstappen, we fell behind by such a margin, that we weren’t close enough to execute a successful 2 -stop.”

Ultimately, Hamilton stole the fastest lap point from Perez at the very final lap of the race, denying Verstappen of any chance to counter-strategize and clinch that point from the Briton.

What would have happened if Bottas pitted before Perez?

Of course, Perez drove his way into the pits with around 15 laps left in the bag. However, assuming he did not do that, Mercedes could have pulled off a strategy with Bottas similar to what Verstappen did against Hamilton at Le Castellet. Would that have worked for Bottas at the Red Bull Ring?

James doesn’t think so.

Formula One F1 – Azerbaijan Grand Prix – Baku City Circuit, Baku, Azerbaijan – June 5, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas in the pits during qualifying Pool via REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

Perez had a small pace advantage relative to Valtteri,” he said. “The significance of that is if we were to convert it to a 2-stop, we would move Valtteri out of that podium position, now back into 4th.

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“And we simply wouldn’t have the pace to be able to catch back up and overtake.”

Overall, it was a bitter-sweet weekend for Mercedes, despite doing the best with the strategy for both the drivers. But the pace deficit against Red Bull denied the Silver Arrows from taking their usual gambles.

So, with the Austrian GP around the corner, can Mercedes somehow bring down the gap to their rivals and possibly challenge them for P1?

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Rohit Kumar

906 articles

Rohit Kumar is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. He has been an ardent follower of the racing series since 2007, with his love for the sport coinciding with his love for Kimi Raikkonen. He is also an ardent follower of Sebastian Vettel and Aston Martin Racing.

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