Huge debris from Vettel’s car got stuck under Bottas’ Mercedes

© LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

In the opening laps of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Valtteri Bottas struck a broken endplate piece from Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari.

Although Bottas maintained his P1 at the start of the race, on lap 2 the Finn struck a broken endplate piece that was left on the track after Sebastian Vettel collided with Kevin Magnussen. The piece got stuck under Bottas’ car and caused damage to the floor.

“The start was good, and that was one of the main things to get right today,” said Bottas.

“On lap two, suddenly out of turn seven, there was debris. I didn’t have time to avoid it. I aimed in the middle of the car at least, and tried not to run over that with the tyres.

“But obviously it caused some damage or something which made the car quite tricky to drive.”

The Finn’s car suffered a loss of performance due to the damage, which allowed Hamilton (with a little help from a Virtual Safety Car) to get ahead of him after the first pit stop. Bottas’ struggle to maintain good pace despite the damage led to a lockup which allowed Max Verstappen to overtake him.

“I was really pushing hard to try and avoid Max getting through. I had to push over all my limits and that led to a mistake, so I was unlucky.”

Mercedes managed to remove the piece stuck under the car on the second pit stop.

“It was stuck underneath his car,” said team boss Toto Wolff.

“It was debris he over ran over on lap two and he couldn’t avoid it.”

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Later, Mercedes Trackside Engineering director Andrew Shovlin said the team couldn’t believe the size of the removed piece.

“We were having a conversation relatively early on in the pace that we were seeing a big drop in performance,” Shovlin explained.

“In terms of lap time it was seven or eight tenths of a second [per lap], we weren’t really believing the sensors because we were looking at how Valtteri was not pushing particularly hard, able to do reasonable lap times, and could build a bit of a gap.

“Early on we couldn’t quite believe how big it was and we didn’t quite know what it was. I think because when you look at the size of it and the fact it’s red you can’t believe that we couldn’t see it on the cameras but it was lodged in the black area and because the whole car is black there we couldn’t see that.

“If we could have seen where it was we could have possibly do a more effective job of getting it out at the first stop.

“He did the right decision to go right over it as taking it over a tyre would very lucky have been an instant puncture, but through no fault of his own it basically held him back for the whole afternoon.”

Ultimately, a DNF from Max Verstappen allowed Bottas to regain P2 to complete another Mercedes 1-2 victory. Luck favours the bold 🙂

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