Why Mercedes Refused Bottas a Different Strategy to Lewis Hamilton

Published 09/16/2020, 8:20 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – Tuscan Grand Prix – Mugello, Scarperia e San Piero, Italy – Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton celebrates with the trophy on the podium after winning the race alongside Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas Pool via REUTERS/Bryn Lennon


The race at Mugello saw Lewis Hamilton drive effortlessly to secure his 90th win in the Tuscan GP. Teammate Valtteri Bottas finished in 2nd, around 4.8 seconds behind the defending World Champion.

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However, it could have been much closer than we think had things gone down differently. As is the norm, Mercedes’ Chief Strategist, James Vowles, took to the internet for a Tuscan GP debrief and low-down. The Mercedes-AMG team subsequently posted the video on their official YouTube channel.

And one of the questions asked was, “Why was Valtteri not given the alternative strategy as he wanted?” To this, James responded, “Towards Lap 30, both cars were on Mediums. And we’d expected to stop just one more time before the end of the race.

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“We started to notice around Lap 29, Lap 30 a vibration on Valtteri’s front tires, that was getting more and more significant. It was reminiscent of what we saw at Silverstone. So this time, we wanted to prevent any instance from occurring.”

Mercedes lay focus on securing the best result possible

The thinking behind Mercedes‘ decision seemed clear – protect the lead and secure the points. Had they had a replica incident of Silverstone, it would surely have cost them a good day at Mugello.

Formula One F1 – Tuscan Grand Prix – Mugello, Scarperia e San Piero, Italy – Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in action during the race Pool via REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini

It ultimately came down to observation and instinct based on Live data, rather than past reference points. Vowles went on to state that, “Given the tires degradation was higher than expected and that we had to lead the field, we opted for the Hards (for Valtteri).

“This wasn’t a planned stop.”

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Bottas and Mercedes looking for a favorable partnership this season

Valtteri Bottas has been critical of Mercedes’ strategy previously. During the 70th Anniversary race at Silverstone, he was left behind by Max Verstappen. And later on left to fend off Lewis Hamilton, who eventually overtook him.

From Bottas’ perspective, it is understandable because they have given Lewis the priority. But it should be noted that Bottas has enjoyed a number of chances across multiple races.

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It remains to be seen how the Finn performs for the rest of the season.

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Bhargav Gopal

927 articles

Hailing from Bengaluru, Bhargav is an F1 and NASCAR author for EssentiallySports. He is a huge fan of Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing. Bhargav also has an MBA in Sports Management from the Symbiosis School of Sports Sciences, Pune.

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