Bottas says he may have to ‘drive differently’ in Styrian GP as Mercedes work on gearbox fix
‘Electrical noise’. That’s what Mercedes blamed for the frantic radio messages to Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton during the 2020 Austrian Grand Prix, as the drivers were forced to nurse their ailing W11s through the latter half of the race. And with the Styrian Grand Prix set to be held at the same track this weekend, Bottas said he may even have to adapt his driving style for this weekend’s race, as the team work on a fix for the problem.
Speaking to our F1 Nation podcast after last week’s race, Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin explained more about the ‘electrical noise’ issue, revealing that it was “basically a build-up of electrical noise that starts to interfere with the various systems” – with the problem exacerbated by the Red Bull Ring’s high kerbs.
And ahead of the Styrian Grand Prix, Bottas – who overcame the issue on his car to win the race – said: “I’m pretty confident the team has tried to do things to fix it already for this weekend. Obviously it's limited in the regulations how much you can do and how much you can't when it's about gearbox but we've localised the issue and I've full trust that we're going to fix it. Just when is the question.”
Asked whether he might have to adapt his driving at the Styrian Grand Prix to manage the issue, having been ordered by the team to stay off the kerbs during last week's race, Bottas replied: “On Friday, I think we're running quite a bit of sensors to monitor what's going on and see if the issue will reappear, but if it will, yes for sure we will need to be on the cautious side.
“We obviously want to finish the races and get the full points that we can, but that’s something that we should be more wiser [about] after Friday to see how things are. But we could potentially have to drive differently. We'll see.”
Meanwhile, Bottas downplayed the notion that a repeat of his success last Sunday would be easy this weekend.
When you approach a new race weekend, everything starts from zero
“When you approach a new race weekend, everything starts from zero again,” said Bottas. “Of course you have to enjoy every single big result and especially a win, but in this sport you don’t have time to enjoy too long because there’s always going to be a next [race].
“Of course, I’ve been working as well with the team, looking at all the things I can do better this weekend, that we can do together, and the main goal is to take it as a completely new race weekend and not remembering anything about last weekend – except the things that we can do better.”
Bottas’ strong opening weekend in Austria sees him with a useful 13-point lead over Hamilton – who was classified fourth in the race after receiving a five-second penalty for clashing with Alex Albon – going into race two, an advantage that could prove crucial in this foreshortened Formula 1 season.
Drivers' standings after the Austrian Grand Prix
|1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes||25|
|2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari||18|
|3 Lando Norris McLaren||16|
|4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes||12|
|5 Carlos Sainz McLaren||10|
|6 Sergio Perez Racing Point||8|
|7 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri||6|
|8 Esteban Ocon Renault||4|
|9 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing||2|
|10 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari||1|