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Mercedes saw Baku F1 debris too late to warn Valtteri Bottas

The Mercedes Formula 1 team has revealed it saw the debris that Valtteri Bottas struck in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, but it was too late to warn him about it

Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said the team had constantly been telling its drivers to look out for debris after earlier incidents.

"The first time we saw it was just as he came over those bumps," said Shovlin. That was why he was also blind-sighted.

"You could see him heading towards it, but it was half a second or a second or so, and it was not enough time for us to get on the radio and tell him that there was debris on the track.

"If we had seen it we would have warned him, as we were doing a lot of the other laps with the other accidents.

"We were trying to guide them as to the best bit of track to avoid it. Unfortunately on this occasion it was all too late."

Shovlin said the team had been banking on a late safety car when it left Bottas out after leader Sebastian Vettel pitted, knowing that there was a chance that he would be able to stop and stay in front if he was able to pit while the race was neutralised.

"Absolutely, that was what we were hoping for," he said. "It's Baku, and there's a pretty good chance of getting a safety car.

"When Sebastian came in he leaves this window so that he's sufficiently far behind us so that if we stop under a safety car or a VSC, and you get the shorter pit [time] loss, we could actually take the lead of the race.

"It's actually quite difficult to lead the race and control it, because you are protecting against people undercutting you, but also this issue with the safety car, and you can't do both.

"So that's where it does create opportunities for whoever's in P2."

The alternative plan was to give Bottas a late stop under green for the quicker ultrasoft tyre, which would have allowed him to chase Vettel down in a repeat of the Bahrain GP's closing stages.

"If there hadn't been a safety car, we would have come in with Valtteri, we would have taken the ultrasoft, about 10 laps from the end of the race," said Shovlin.

"Those 10 laps would have given him just enough time to catch up with Seb, and battle him for the win. And he would have done that with a couple of laps remaining."

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