Wolff says Mercedes to review design of wheel nut after ‘catastrophic failure’ in Monaco
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says the Monaco Grand Prix pit stop that put Valtteri Bottas out of the race will be investigated in granular detail – as will the design and material of the troublesome wheel nut itself – as the team try to ensure the problem can never happen again.
An issue with Mercedes’ wheel gun left the right front wheel nut and the wheel stuck on the car when the Finn pitted on Lap 30, forcing him to retire from what was second position. It left Mercedes without a podium in Monaco and saw them lose the championship lead for the first time since 2018. Bottas said he’d never experienced anything like it during a Grand Prix, and Mercedes Technical Director James Allison said it left the crew feeling “lower than a snake’s belly”.
And now Silver Arrows chief Wolff has detailed how the team will investigate the issue – and backed the mechanic who was working the wheelgun, calling them “one of the best” in the team.
He said: “If you give me a screwdriver… I will do exactly the same thing. There’s always many factors that contribute to such a catastrophic failure and in that case, we need to review the design, we need to review the material of our wheel nut because the mechanics that operate the wheel nut need to do it in a way that you can’t machine it off.
“As a matter of fact, the mechanic that did that is one of the best and one of the fittest in terms of pit stop speed that the team has. Things always come together, it’s never someone’s fault. It’s always multifaceted,” he added.
Wolff continued to explain how emotions in the Mercedes garage fluctuated after Bottas's race-ending incident and the disappointment of Lewis Hamilton finishing seventh, and what the team need to do in order to bounce back for the next Grand Prix at Baku.
“It’s an interesting sequence of emotions because when you realise that you are facing failure then anger kicks in and this is a completely normal phenomenon and you need to be able to stay on top of your emotions and say ‘OK, it is what it is. What can we do in order to optimise the current situation?’
“And if there is not a lot to optimise short-term, how can we avoid these kinds of failures in the future and how can we optimise?
"Only if you create a safe environment, where people can speak up and you are really able to analyse the shortcomings and the gaps you will create solutions that will help you avoid doing the same mistakes in the future. It’s an emotional rollercoaster that you go through."
Monaco left Mercedes just one point behind Red Bull in the standings, while Hamilton is four points behind Max Verstappen in the drivers’ championship heading to June’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.