Bottas calls for strategy review after opportunity to finish P10 slips away in F1 Japanese GP

Photo Credit: Sauber
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Valtteri Bottas started the Japanese Grand Prix in the 13th grid spot and finished 14th when the chequered flag waved. The chaotic start of the Japanese Grand Prix resulted in an early red flag caused by the crash between RB’s Ricciardo and the Williams of Albon at turn 3.

Starting on the soft compound tyres, Bottas managed to gain places as he got past Ricciardo and Tsunoda who were both starting on the medium compound tyres, placing him P11 which was soon halted due to that red flag.

Things went the Sauber driver’s way during the race restart as he managed to gain another position, jumping Hülkenberg. He was P10, putting him into the points at that stage.

On Lap 7, Bottas pitted for an early pit stop to the hard compound tyres. The slow pit stop of 4 seconds did not harm him too much as he managed to undercut Yuki Tsunoda.

Compared to the previous races this season where Sauber’s pit stops have been 15-20 seconds, this was an improvement for the team.

The Finn managed to climb up through the traffic extremely efficiently and gained 6 positions to be P11, giving him some hope to score points at Suzuka with just Magnussen to clear.

However, on Lap 23 Bottas boxed for the second time. He came in with Magnussen, Sargeant, Tsunoda and Stroll. Unfortunately for him, he rejoined behind the Dane again, as well as Tsunoda and Stroll who jumped both of them.

The 10-time Grand Prix winner says a review of the strategy is required, believing extending the middle stint would have been a better choice due to their pit stop issues.

“It seems like we should have been where Yuki was without the issue at the second stop, honestly. So, it’s a shame.

“I think another option would have been also to extend that middle stint and then find some free air because we had the pace today. We need to review everything first.”

Asked if he felt P10 felt like a possibility at one point, the Finn agreed. But it all went wrong at the second stop and Bottas was tucked up behind Magnussen for the final 30 laps.

“Definitely. Based on the first half of the race it was actually looking pretty good. Pace felt good.

“But then I think the timing of the second stop, we need to review that because we stop at the same time as everybody else.

“We know it’s a weakness still for us, and again, unfortunately we had an issue which meant we were behind the competition again, and then being on the same tyre age as everyone else for the rest of the race, especially with Kevin. [I] just couldn’t get by.”

The Finnish driver explained that he knew the pit stop issues were not fully fixed and there were possibilities of slow pit stops as Sauber is still trying to fix their problems.

“We knew that it’s still not going to be 100% fixed yet, so there still can be issues. I don’t know what was the issue exactly. We’ll have to look at a few things.

“But at least the pace seemed improved here compared to previous events.”

Regardless of the pit stop problems, Bottas expressed that the Sauber had better pace on Sunday compared to the previous races this season. It’s a good sign for him and his team after they brought a new floor to Japan.

“For me, yes [best weekend of the season]. Apart from the second stop, everything was actually quite good this weekend. And the race pace […] yeah, definitely a good battle with RB. It’s getting better.”