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Formula 1 in France: For Valtteri Bottas, things will be tight at Mercedes

Mercedes weaken: Since Le Castellet’s return to the Formula 1 calendar in 2018, Mercedes has secured two safe victories with Lewis Hamilton – and the world champion also showed a good driver performance on Sunday. But in 2021 that will not be enough. Because if you watch Max Verstappen at Red Bull beating Hamilton on the penultimate lap, you can easily see that the team is no longer the undisputed number one. Several reasons came together in France: Mercedes had problems on the strait, allowed Red Bull to impose strategy on them and in the end Valtteri Bottas failed in his important role in keeping his teammate from the fast Verstappen. And like the racing team, the Finns continue to be under pressure.

The result: With the stopping strategy chosen, Verstappen beat Hamilton, and Sergio Perez completed the podium in the second Red Bull. Red Bull won three races in a row for the first time since 2014. Read the race report here.

World Championship Strategy – From Red Bull: After Hamilton after his first stop Having already lost the lead to Verstappen, Red Bull relied on a stopping strategy on lap 33. It wasn’t planned in advance, Verstappen said then in an interview – but it paid off as the racing team eventually benefited from modern tyres. On the other hand, Mercedes has left its drivers abroad, and both have responded with annoyance. “I ran out of tires and lost my place,” Hamilton said. Bottas found the race “disappointing”. Red Bull showed that two stops was the winning strategy, “You should have been prepared for that in advance. The second period was long, we started it too early,” he said. During the race, the Finn cursed on the radio: “Why the hell don’t you listen to me when I say it’s a two-stop race? shit! “

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Not the time for leadership errors: Bottas had reason to bother beforehand, because on lap 44 Verstappen started overtaking in order to continue the hunt for Hamilton, who was ahead at the time – and it was all too easy. In his eighth turn, the Dutchman approached Bottas, who tried to block the inside, but fell a little off the track due to a mistake in driving with old tires and no longer had a chance to defend his position and act as a buffer between Hamilton and Verstappen. for as long as possible.

Bottas must address the rumours: For Bottas, who is only fifth in the drivers’ standings, the break comes at an awkward time. During the week, he denied media reports of him actually leaving Mercedes at the end of the season. Several international media had announced in the days before that that Bottas would be replaced by Briton George Russell, who currently still drives at Williams. On Thursday, Bottas said contract negotiations with Mercedes motorsport chief Toto Wolff had yet to take place: “We haven’t discussed anything yet, that’s yet to come.”

The thing with the worm: After the race, Wolf tried to defend Bottas and try to limit the damage. “The worm is somewhere,” he said at Sky, it was a consideration of strategy, and today the weakest card was pulled out. When asked what he’s talking about Bottas at the moment, he answered: “Today’s race.” Presumably the coarse words on the radio were fine too: “Valtteri is finally letting something go. It’s a pleasure to look at.” Bottas was driving ‘too strong,’ given the lack of speed he didn’t have much to oppose to Verstappen, ‘wasn’t that Enough anyway.” But it is also clear that a world title is not guaranteed this season, so the performance of both drivers is very important.

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World Cup fight in the radio hole: In France, there were problems not only with the choice of strategy, but also with communication. In this case, however, at Red Bull and Mercedes. On lap 38, Red Bull could not understand Verstappen and asked him to put his microphone back in place. Two laps later, Hamilton could not hear his engineer, who then had to change headphones. On the final leg of the race, Hamilton was right: “Let me do it now, please,” he said on lap 49 and asked for radio silence – the focus was just on driving the win to the finish.

What’s Next: With Hamilton unsuccessful, Verstappen extended his championship lead to twelve points after the seventh race. The horse-powered caravan travels to the Red Bull Circuit in Spielberg/Austria, where it will drive on June 27 and July 4, respectively.