Mercedes offers explanation for Bottas mistake that saw him get marginalised in Bahrain

Following calls that deemed Mercedes to have jeopardised Valtteri Bottas’ run in the Bahrain Grand prix, the team has sought to offer an explanation.

Bottas was instructed to make his second pit stop at the end of lap 30. At this point, there was still a small chance that he could challenge the duo of Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

However, a split-second fault meant that Bottas was held up for 10.9 seconds. This completed sabotaged his chances of challenging for the win and he eventually came in 37 seconds behind Hamilton.

Mercedes technical director James Allison explained the reasoning behind the pit stop at that particular point.

“When the car came into the pit stop box, Valtteri came in very neatly, positioned the car neatly, which is always a help for the pit crew.

“But sadly one of the gunmen went onto the wheel, started to disengage the nut, loosened the nut but then started to withdraw the wheel gun just a little bit too soon before the nut had spun off its thread.

“Because it was still offering some resistance at that point, as he withdrew the wheel gun, the socket on the wheel gun started to disengage from the nut and then started to spin round.”

Allison was quick to point out exactly what the problem was at Bottas’ pit stop.

“We call it machining the nut because it starts to chip away at the edges of the nut and destroy the nut, a bit like when you are using a screwdriver and you don’t have it lined up properly, and you start to sort of damage the screwdriver slot,” he said.

“So, as he pulled away the gun machined away at the nut and it didn’t actually come off its mountings.

“He went back in to deal with it but the gun recognises – or is designed to recognise -when it has done a gunning-off action and it automatically shuttles the gun so that it is then in doing-up mode.

“So when he went back on to finish the job of taking the wheel nut off, the gun is now in doing-up mode and instead of undoing the nut, it is doing it up again.”

Allison agreed that what happened thereafter didn’t leave anyone pleased.

“Something which is normally a beautiful two-second pit stop causes it to then collapse into something that haemorrhages lap time and seconds in the pit lane,” he said.

“But all of it was caused by that initial misplacing of the wheel gun, machining the nut as the wheel gun came off.”

Following the race, Bottas was vocal about the fact that he was far from happy with what happened. He was even seen deep in conversation with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.

Do you think Bottas’ role has been marginalised by Mercedes? Let us know in the comments section below!

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