Wolff answers Bottas: “I don’t think we were sleeping“

In a 70th Anniversary Grand Prix interview Valtteri Bottas criticized Mercedes’ strategy calls, saying the team was “sleeping”.

Bottas was referring to Mercedes’ call to leave Lewis Hamilton on track longer than the Finn in the middle stint. This allowed Hamilton to pass Bottas on fresher tyres in the final stint. Team principal Toto Wolff respectfully disagrees that the team made a bad call.

“I don’t think we were sleeping, but I accept his perspective,” said Wolff.

“I think we just had the slower car today, and we just admit that. His point was should we have done the opposite to Max.

“As a matter of fact, this wouldn’t have changed anything, because Max would have come out with a fresh tyre, and we would have continued with a tyre that wasn’t in the best state any more, and he just pitted in front of us. So not sure what we could have done better.

“Obviously he’s not in a happy place that he was P2 and Lewis was P3, but it was the learning that happened on-track when we got Valtteri’s tyre in, we saw there was actually a lot of rubber left, and we extended Lewis’s stint, albeit that there were big vibrations but a lot of rubber.

“Therefore, he was getting quicker and quicker, the more the rubber went down, and that is why we could extend the stint, and eventually Lewis overtook Valtteri.

“It’s clear he’s not happy, and I totally respect that. None of us are happy with the result.”

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Wolff went on to explain how Mercedes’ tyre struggles weren’t down to one specific factor.

“I think we had indications in the past that our relative gap was not as large to our competitors when it was hot. It’s a little bit simplistic to just say it’s hotter.

“It comes down to the fact that we have a car with high downforce, and obviously when conditions change, parameters change, like temperatures going up, compounds getting softer, pressures going up, we have to acknowledge that the Red Bull is a pretty fast car, and that’s what we have seen today.

“We have these days in the past, and came out stronger, and I’m really looking forward to Barcelona. We have a handful of days to assess, come up with solutions, test them on the Friday in Barcelona, and then hopefully have a better race on Sunday.

“These days where we lose are the days where we learn the most,” concluded the Austrian.

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