Why Bottas was denied his split strategy wish

Mercedes has revealed a tyre problem reminiscent of those faced at Silverstone prevented Valtteri Bottas going on to a different strategy at Mugello.

In a bid to re-take the race lead at the Tuscan Grand Prix, Bottas asked the pit wall for a different race strategy to team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

But Bottas was the Mercedes driver who pitted first, which allowed Hamilton to simply follow suit in pitting for the same hard compound tyre.

Mercedes’ chief strategist, James Vowles, has said the original plan was to put Bottas on a different strategy as requested, but tyre vibrations threw that plan out of the window.

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“Towards lap 30 of the race, both cars were on medium and going into their stint,” Vowles said in Mercedes’ latest post-race debrief.

“We expected to stop just one more time before the end of the race. We started to notice lap 29, lap 30, that there was a vibration on Valtteri’s front tyres that was getting more and more significant.

“It was reminiscent of what we saw at Silverstone and this time we wanted to prevent any incident from occurring.

“As a result of that, instead of boxing Lewis first, because he had priority [as the car ahead], we brought Valtteri in.

“We reviewed what the best compound would be to fit that circumstance. Given the degradation on the medium tyres was higher than expected and given that this stint was slightly shorter than what we wanted it to be, and that we had a lead to the field, we went for the hard tyre.

“Prior to that, what we were going to do was stop Lewis first and whatever tyre we would have fitted, we would have been more than happy to do something different with Valtteri.

“But Valtteri’s stop wasn’t a planned stop. This was us reacting to a problem and as a result of it we stayed on the safe side.”

Bottas is 55 points behind Lewis Hamilton in the World Championship standings, nine races in to this revised 17-race calendar for 2020.

The Finn has just one win, the season opener in Austria, to his name, while Hamilton’s Tuscany Grand Prix win was his sixth win of the season.

Hamilton is therefore closing in on what would be a record-equalling seventh World Championship title.

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