Wolff Reveals Mercedes Are Clueless About Bottas’ Gearbox Issue in F1 Testing

Published 03/12/2021, 8:30 AM EST
Formula One F1 – Pre-Season Testing – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain – Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas in action during testing REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed


Mercedes F1’s pre-season tests got off to the worst possible start today. Valtteri Bottas was given first dibs on the Silver Arrows’ latest machine, the W12. But the Finn only managed to complete one lap before heading back to the pits with a gearbox issue. The faulty gearbox was subsequently changed, but team boss Toto Wolff said he was clueless about what caused the problem in the first place.

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The Austrian team principal said, “It wasn’t a good start because of a gearbox issue that came out of nowhere, which we haven’t been able to identify and understand.

“If we’re able to have a smoother ride from here onwards, I think we can recover. If we have more stumbling blocks, then obviously with three days there’s not a lot you can do.”

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NUERBURG, GERMANY. Mercedes GP Executive Director Toto Wolff talks in the Team Principals Press Conference. F1 Eifel Grand Prix. Nuerburgring in Nuerburg, Germany. (Photo by Joe Portlock/Getty Images)

It took the Brackley-based outfit three hours to fit Bottas’ car with a new gearbox. He subsequently hit the track but could only manage to put in 5 more laps before the session got over. Lewis Hamilton will take over during the afternoon session, and he’ll be hoping to have much better luck than his teammate.

The Finn, on the other hand, will have to until the afternoon session of day 2 to be back in the cockpit of the Silver Arrow.

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LE CASTELLET, FRANCE. Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes GP looks on in parc ferme. F1 Grand Prix of France. Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet, France. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Bottas will be well aware that George Russell and Max Verstappen are much shinier prospects than him for a team that aims to dominate the next decade of F1 racing. As such, replicating Nico Rosberg’s title win in 2016 can be seen as mandatory.

He has undertaken quite strenuous physical and mental training over the off-season by his own admission. But he’d also need some luck to go his way if he wants to outdo Lewis. And if this pre-season test flop was any indication of the luck he’ll have throughout the season, then Bottas may well admit his time at the Brackley-based outfit is up.

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However, all is far from lost. He’ll get his chance to put in some miles under him and he should be ready to hit the track at a 100% in time for the opening round. From there on, it’s all up to Bottas to decide his fate. Will he be the man to end Hamilton’s dominance? 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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