Valtteri Bottas’s request to be put on the soft tyre at Portimao was ignored because Mercedes doesn’t want to interfere, says Toto Wolff.
Shortly after Lewis Hamilton pitted for hard tyres at the Portuguese Grand Prix, Bottas asked for the soft compound to be fitted when he came in as he felt it would give him a better chance of catching the Brit.
He didn’t get his wish though, as his team put him on the same tyres as his team-mate. Hamilton then cruised to victory while Bottas crossed the line in P2 25 seconds later.
The Finn himself felt that his request was turned down as the team thought that it was too early and that the softs wouldn’t make it to the end. However, when asked why such a decision was taken, team principal Wolff stated that it was to avoid inter-team issues.
“We have done it on occasions, but it’s always a tricky situation,” he said after the race.
“If you ask the lead driver to put the hards on because you believe this is the right choice, and then the second driver starts to convince you about the other thing, it’s very difficult to explain that you’ve basically reversed the cars.
“We don’t want to interfere too much, and there will be situations where we are going to allow these calls.”
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) October 25, 2020
Judging by how other drivers got on, Mercedes did, in fact, do Bottas a favour by not granting him his wish. Throughout the race, those running the soft compound struggled to get their tyres working well.
According to Wolff, this was another reason why the team was so firm in its decision to put the Finn on hards.
“We were pretty convinced that the hard was the better tyre,” the Austrian added.
“All data that we’ve seen from cars out there tended towards the hard outperforming the medium and the soft. When you look at Checo [Perez] and Esteban [Ocon] at the end, the soft didn’t function at all. It was actually the weakest tyre at the end of the race.
“We were pretty robust in our decision because we expected it to be the better tyre.”