Why Mercedes Didn’t Let Bottas Carry On After Failed Monaco GP Pitstop

Published 05/27/2021, 6:22 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – Monaco Grand Prix – Circuit de Monaco, Monte Carlo, Monaco – May 22, 2021 Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas in action during qualifying REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes


Valtteri Bottas and the Mercedes team had a horror of a race in Monaco. The Finn, who was P2 at the time, came into the pits for a change of tire, but he never left – thanks to the wheel nut on his front right tire’s refusal to come off; Bottas had to retire soon thereafter. However, there was a section of fans wondering why the Silver Arrows couldn’t just send him out with the same tires or with three new ones, and then take whatever penalty came their way.

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Surely that would have been better than enduring a DNF? Apparently not. Mercedes‘ motorsport strategy director James Vowles explained why such a maneuver could not be done.

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He said, “Sadly, we couldn’t have done that. We could have, and put Valtteri out on track, but we would have been disqualified.”

Mercedes F1’s Vowles explains why they couldn’t send Bottas back out

The Silver Arrows’ motorsport strategy director further said, “You have to, under the regulations, run both sets, two different sets of dry specification tires in the race. And also, all four corners must match in terms of what compound they are.

“We would have triggered a disqualification as a result of carrying on that way.”

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So in the end, the only option was to retire the car. It was an extremely unfortunate way for Bottas’ race to end, although team boss Toto Wolff believes he had a hand in the wheel nut getting jammed.

Formula One F1 – Portuguese Grand Prix – Algarve International Circuit – Portimao, Portugal – Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas before the race Pool via REUTERS/Gabriel Bouys

Bottas’ DNF in Monaco sees him sit in fourth place on the Drivers’ championship standings with 47 points. Although it seems early to make a call on his title ambitions, most fans reckon that the Finn is already out of the running. That means the title is now effectively a two-way fight between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

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But that doesn’t mean Valtteri has nothing to play for. In fact, the Finn’s seat in the team may well be on thin ice. George Russell’s emergence and the fact that he is seen by many to be a future world championship-winning driver means that Bottas may be told to vacate his place at Mercedes.

So he’ll be keen to showcase that he can still be the man Mercedes need him to be. If he can knick a few wins this season, he’ll make a compelling case for a contract extension. But time does seem to be running out for Valtteri to prove his worth. Can the race in Baku be the start of something new? Only time will tell.

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Ronan Carvalho

1063 articles

Ronan Carvalho is senior F1 author for Essentiallysports. Ronan is currently pursuing his Journalism degree from St. Xavier's College.

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