‘We need to make sure it doesn’t happen again’ – Bottas reflects on 52-second pit stop in Bahrain


A 52.4s pit stop was the nadir of a frustrating opening Grand Prix of the season for Kick Sauber’s Valtteri Bottas, with the Finn coming home a distant 19th at the Bahrain International Circuit.

Bottas’s race had already got off to a compromised start when, from P16 on the grid, he got caught up in contact between Lance Stroll and Nico Hulkenberg, Bottas nerfing the rear of Hulkenberg’s Haas and damaging his front wing.

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But there were shades of Monaco 2021 – when Bottas was forced to retire from the race after a wheel got stuck on his Mercedes in the pits – when he came into the Kick Sauber box to swap his soft tyres for hards.

There, a cross-threaded wheel nut saw him stationary for 52.4s as the mechanics tried to resolve the issue – ruining Bottas’s race, as he came home well down the field in P19.

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“Obviously there was an issue with the wheel nut,” said Bottas post-race. “Something to investigate to make sure it doesn’t happen again, I think that’s the main take from me today. And also, unlucky with the Turn 1 incident – I had a bit of damage in the front wing.

“It wasn’t actually a huge effect, just slight understeer maybe in certain corners, but nothing huge.”

“So, not my day, but hopefully that’s my bad luck for the year done!”

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The positive for Kick Sauber was a strong race day performance from Bottas’s team mate Zhou Guanyu, who rose from 17th on the grid to finish the race in P11, behind the Aston Martins of Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll – with the Chinese driver cautiously pleased with the performance of his all-new Kick Sauber C44.

“Honestly, I’m happy with the progress the team were able to make,” he said. “At the beginning of this weekend, if you told me we were fighting with the Astons, I think we’re in a good spot.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Zhou Guanyu of China driving the (24) Kick Sauber C44 Ferrari on track

Zhou was in the fight with the Aston Martins

“But clearly the pace is kind of where we are; we really maximised everything in the race, I didn’t do any mistakes. But just to maintain Lance behind was so difficult… I would just destroy my tyres. So P11, still a lot to be working on, because we all still want another step more closer to the points.

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“Over the whole course of the weekend, coming back to the testing, we were changing a lot on the set-up,” he added. “We really couldn’t find the comfort zone with this new car we have. This weekend which I did, we made small changes which seem to be going in the right direction, so let’s keep focused, keep working as a team for Jeddah and show we can do a step.”



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