Today at the Spanish Grand Prix, we saw Mercedes driver and team mate to Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, unable to capitalise on his pole position won on the previous day, as clutch issues meant a tardy getaway from the start line.
This, of course, allowed Lewis Hamilton to get up alongside his Finnish team mate with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel overstretching his quick starting, but already out-developed Ferrari, along the outside. The Finn had nowhere to go in this Formula One car sandwich, ultimately resulting in a second place finish.
Hamilton, as often the case, managed to find some decent pace since Friday practice where TJ13 published a piece highlighting just how much quicker Bottas was in race simulation analysis.
Alas for the fans of the Finnish driver, Sunday wasn’t to be, and Bottas 2.0 certainly looked miserable, immediately mentioning to David Coulthard in post-race interviews the fact that his race was lost due to the clutch slipping off the start line, rather than anything else.
Bottas also mentioned that he’d be talking to his team about this too, in a not so friendly manner.
According to Racefans.net, Bottas claims that there’s zero difference in pace between himself and Hamilton on Sunday: “Honestly from my feeling, there was no pace difference at all today,” he said. “That’s my feeling.”
“I know the difference when you’re at the front you can control the pace, manage the tyres completely in the way you want in the free air.” said Bottas.
“So I’m not worried at all about the race pace. I think it looks pretty identical”
And this is indeed true of Formula One in most eras where aerodynamics have played a substantial part in car performance. But certainly, it seems that the current regulations that came into force from 2017, an active departure from the trend to reduce downforce in an effort to keep the racing close, means that cars are not able to pass and win a race if they’re following the leader.
“At this type of track it makes such a difference. You feel it when you are behind, even four seconds away, you feel in the corners you are sliding more. It doesn’t need much sliding and your tyres are going to finish earlier.”
Alas, this had been predicted three years ago when TJ13 published an article highlighting the coming disaster of F1’s current aero changes, and that the main opportunity to pass will be at the start, not in the race, and for Spain 2019, Bottas concurs saying:
“I really think the main thing was who ends up first after turns one and two.”
Until Formula one can get on top of their aerodynamic policy, the sport will continue to suffer hugely, killing F1 and turning off audiences in their droves.
The fact that cars are unable to pass or get close to one another on a circuit used for pre-season testing means that we’re probably in for a pretty dull season of on-track action.
As a dutiful team player, Bottas refuses to point any fingers at a team member for the clutch problem.
“If I [did] it again I wouldn’t do anything different. We are still investigating, we can definitely see the vibration on the clutch, abnormal behaviour which cost me that few crucial metres on the way to turn one.
“So as a driver it’s annoying but it can happen and knowing this team we’re going to fix it and it won’t happen again. I’m not blaming any individual in the team. These things can, unfortunately, happen in motorsport. We’ll learn from it.”