Valtteri Bottas Voiced Pitstop Concerns Before Monaco

Valtteri Bottas says he raised concerns about Mercedes’ pit stops before being forced into retirement at the Monaco Grand Prix because of a machined wheel nut.

Mercedes took 43 hours to remove the front right wheel from Bottas’ car following a botched tyre change in Monaco, making it the longest ever pit stop in F1.

Since the mechanic’s wheel gun connected to the wheel nut at an angle, its socket machined the metal from the wheel nut teeth rather than connecting with them.

It was impossible for Mercedes to remove the wheel from the car in Monaco,  and it wasn’t released until it had been returned to the U.K. factory. A  high-powered Dremel tool was used to cut through the wheel nut.

Before the pit stop, Bottas was running in a strong second place, so the mistake likely cost him 18 points in the battle for the 2021 Driver’s Championship.

“We always analyze everything very openly – not blaming any people but really analyzing things honestly and admitting weaknesses, which was the pit stop.” 

“As a matter of fact, it was one of my concerns already a few weeks ago, that I raised with the team.

“So it didn’t come from somewhere out of the blue, we knew that we are not perfect in pit stops as we’ve seen, and also other areas like tyre warm-up in qualifying,” said Bottas.

2021 Monaco Grand Prix, Sunday - Valtteri Bottas (image courtesy Mercedes-AMG Petronas)
2021 Monaco Grand Prix, Sunday – Valtteri Bottas (image courtesy Mercedes-AMG Petronas)

After the race, Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff admitted Bottas had stopped beyond his markers in the pit box, which could have contributed to the incorrect angle of the wheel gun.

It was a surprise to Bottas to hear those remarks, because footage of the pit stop indicated that he stopped in the right place.

“Yes, I was surprised. I saw the video, and for me, it was pretty spot on where I stopped. Yes, I was quite surprised.

“Of course, I want to see all the reports about where I stopped, and I think I was like two or three centimetres off the central line. And if you get that accuracy normally, it’s pretty good. You know, you can easily swing by 10/15 centimetres so I thought it was pretty spot on.

“But it’s pretty normal debrief, to be honest, and of course we had discussions, the week after, still with my engineers, analyzing everything and at the factory they’ve been full gas, understanding everything.

“So, it is nothing unusual for us, it was just a bigger setback than some other weekends in terms of result but pretty normal procedure otherwise.”

Max Verstappen is now 58 points ahead of Bottas in the drivers’ standings. Bottas discussed how he dealt with the disappointment at retiring from second place.

“Personally, for me, it took a couple of days, I’ve got to say.

“It has not been the best start of the season and that kind of issue, when it hits you when your target is to get some good points is disappointing but I got over it, I’ve got my own ways of getting through it, and I’m keen to race again.”

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