Explained: Why Valtteri Bottas suffered a 52-second pit-stop at Bahrain Grand Prix

Oliver Harden
A close-up shot of Valtteri Bottas looking concerned with a prominent flag of Bahrain alongside him

Valtteri Bottas suffered a tortuous 52-second pit stop during the Bahrain Grand Prix

Valtteri Bottas’s 52-second pit stop in the Bahrain Grand Prix was caused by an issue with the wheelnut, Sauber’s head of trackside engineering Xevi Pujolar has confirmed.

Bottas’s hopes of scoring points in the opening race of the F1 2024 season ended when he made his second pit stop on Lap 30, with an issue with his front-left causing an extended delay.

Valtteri Bottas suffers ‘second-worst’ pit stop after Monaco 2021 horror show

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

While team-mate Zhou Guanyu just missed out on the points in 11th, Bottas was left to trundle home in 19th place – ahead only of Williams’ Logan Sargeant.

Speaking to media including PlanetF1.com’s Thomas Maher after the race, Pujolar revealed that a wheelnut problem was to blame for the delay, with Bottas’s stop officially clocked at 52.4 seconds.

“We had an issue where we had to change the wheelnut,” Pujolar said. “It’s something that we are working on.”

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Bottas’s slow stop came after a troubled start to the race, with the Finnish driver suffering front wing damage after tagging Nico Hulkenberg’s Haas at the first corner.

Bottas carried the damage to his endplate for the remainder of the race, with Sauber deciding against changing his front wing even during the slow stop.

Asked why Sauber missed the opportunity to change Bottas’s front wing during his long second stop, Pujolar said: “We had damage on the endplate, so we lost a bit of performance there, but it was OK to continue without changing. It was better to keep it on the car.

“I think we had already enough going on [during the slow pit stop], so we just thought: first, focus on that one.

“We were losing a bit of performance. For sure, now, you say: ‘OK, if you [know you’ll] spend more time in the pitstop, you will do like it this, but we wanted to keep it simple at the time.'”

Asked if Sauber must re-evaluate their pit-stop procedures after their front jackman was slow to raise the car again when the wheelnut issue became apparent, Pujolar replied: “We will have a look, for sure. We are working in all areas to try to optimise everything.

“If you look at the pitstops with Zhou, it was good on that side. We have some pit stops where we can do better.

“But also looking at the pit stops on Zhou’s side, we were able to fight with competitors and keep position.

“I don’t think we have a problem there – we just need to optimise everything.”

Bottas, who was forced to retire from the 2021 Monaco Grand Prix during his time at Mercedes after a wheelnut issue, joked that Bahrain was the second-worst pit stop of his career.

“That was my second-worst pit stop in history! Hopefully it’s not the same spec wheelnut,” he said.

“It was a front-left wheelnut issue, it seemed like. Something got stuck or cross-threaded or something. We will investigate and now the main thing is to understand because it shouldn’t happen.

“In a tight midfield, you can’t really give away 52 seconds in a pit stop.”

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