Mercedes had "no choice" but to pit Bottas first in French GP

Mercedes had "no choice" but to pit Valtteri Bottas first and spark the early stops that ultimately cost Lewis Hamilton in his fight against Formula 1 rival Max Verstappen.

Mercedes had "no choice" but to pit Bottas first in French GP

Hamilton was able to pass pole-sitter Verstappen on the opening lap of the race after a mistake from the Red Bull driver, and led the opening stint ahead of the Red Bull driver.

But it was third-placed Bottas who was the first to pit at the end of Lap 17, moving from the medium to the hard-compound tyre.

Red Bull responded by bringing Verstappen in one lap later, with the powerful undercut allowing the Dutchman to jump Hamilton, who waited until Lap 19 to pit.

Red Bull made use of Verstappen's track position to switch him to a two-stop strategy later in the stint, forcing Hamilton to stick to a one-stop.

Verstappen was able to pass for the lead with fresher tyres on the penultimate lap, clinching the race victory and extending his championship lead in the process.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, and Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W12

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, and Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W12

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Speaking on Sky Sports F1 after the race, Wolff explained Mercedes' early strategy calls, rebutting pundit Nico Rosberg's suggestion the team had been "too greedy" with Bottas.

"No, we had no choice," Wolff said.

"Valtteri's tyre had started to have a vibration, and towards the end, we were really worried the vibration came through the suspension already.

"He could have had a failure at any time, because he flat-spotted the tyres.

"We knew that we were going to trigger the stops too early, but [we had] no choice."

Hamilton was left confused after the race why he had lost track position to Verstappen at the first round of pit stops, only to be told it was because the overcut had been so powerful.

Mercedes strategy chief James Vowles was heard talking to Hamilton on team radio after the race, saying: "This one's on us. Thank you for doing everything you could to recover that race."

Read Also:

Wolff felt that Hamilton would have been safe with an extra one-second gap to Verstappen in the first stint.

"It went back and forwards," Wolff said. "We were in the lead, because Max made the mistake, so that was a bit inherited.

"Then our pace was good. I think probably maybe a little bit of a margin, even, but then we had just about three seconds gap for the undercut, to protect the undercut.

"But it wasn't enough. We're lacking a second, and somewhere we lost it."

shares
comments

Related video

FIA explains why Perez escaped F1 track limits penalty in France

Previous article

FIA explains why Perez escaped F1 track limits penalty in France

Next article

Bottas: Angry radio message in French GP didn't go too far

Bottas: Angry radio message in French GP didn't go too far
Load comments
The key details that boosted Red Bull and held back Hamilton in Verstappen’s USA victory Plus

The key details that boosted Red Bull and held back Hamilton in Verstappen’s USA victory

As the 2021 Formula 1 title battle winds towards its climax, the United States GP added another thrilling act in the Lewis Hamilton-Max Verstappen battle. Although Hamilton aced the start, Verstappen and Red Bull took the initiative with strategy and were richly rewarded, despite Mercedes' best efforts as the race went down to the wire

US Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

US Grand Prix Driver Ratings

On a baking hot afternoon at the returning Circuit of the Americas, Formula 1 drivers were tested to their limits. As the pressure on the title contending squads reaches an ever-greater level of intensity, the foremost challengers again showed their class, but were outshone by a standout drive from the upper midfield

Why F1's misunderstood party animal will thrive in retirement Plus

Why F1's misunderstood party animal will thrive in retirement

Three years on from Kimi Raikkonen's last Grand Prix victory at Austin, he is now six races away from ending the longest Formula 1 career in history. His friend and former Ice1 Racing rally team PR man ANTHONY PEACOCK explains why there’s nobody quite like the 2007 world champion and why F1 will miss him (but he won’t miss it)

Formula 1
Oct 24, 2021
The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert Plus

The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert

It's 50 years since Jo Siffert was killed in his prime at Brands Hatch. The Swiss scored just two world championship wins in a Formula 1 career spent largely with privateer teams, but showed on numerous occasions in single-seaters and in sportscars with Porsche that he could beat any of the best drivers of his era given the right equipment

Formula 1
Oct 24, 2021
Verstappen exclusive: How Red Bull’s ace has become F1 champion material Plus

Verstappen exclusive: How Red Bull’s ace has become F1 champion material

As Red Bull and Honda go all-out for victory in the Japanese engine manufacturer’s last season of its latest Formula 1 dalliance, Max Verstappen finds himself thrust into a compelling title fight with Lewis Hamilton. He told OLEG KARPOV about his evolution into a world championship contender and why Red Bull's no compromise ethos suits him down to the ground

Formula 1
Oct 23, 2021
How Mercedes went from Austin practice domination to "very tight at the front" with Red Bull Plus

How Mercedes went from Austin practice domination to "very tight at the front" with Red Bull

Mercedes has been on a roll of late in the ultra-tight fight to win the 2021 Formula 1 world championship. It started off well in practice at Austin for this weekend’s US Grand Prix, but Red Bull got closer as Friday unfolded and even seemed to find an edge in one critical area of what seems set to be another close contest

Formula 1
Oct 23, 2021
The six critical factors that could hand F1 2021 glory to Hamilton or Verstappen Plus

The six critical factors that could hand F1 2021 glory to Hamilton or Verstappen

The 2021 Formula 1 title battle is finely poised with six races remaining, as just six points separate championship leader Max Verstappen from seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton. In such a closely-fought season, the outcome could hinge on several small factors playing the way of Red Bull or Mercedes

Formula 1
Oct 22, 2021
Can Whitmarsh appointment help Aston succeed where its F1 rivals failed? Plus

Can Whitmarsh appointment help Aston succeed where its F1 rivals failed?

Aston Martin owner Lawrence Stroll is determined to make the group a billion-dollar business. MARK GALLAGHER analyses his latest play – bringing former McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh into the fold

Formula 1
Oct 22, 2021