A bittersweet race for Mercedes at the Hungarionring.
Bottas, who was second on the grid, had a really poor getaway in the slippery conditions, he got his braking point completely wrong into Turn 1 and hit the back of Lando Norris's McLaren. The Briton then slid across the road and collided with Max Verstappen. Taking himself, the Dutch and Sergio Perez out.
The incident eventually led to a red flag and the Fin was handed a five-place grid penalty for the upcoming Belgian Grand Prix. He was also given two penalty points on his license for the crash, bringing his total for the last 12 months to four - eight fewer than the amount that triggers an automatic one-race ban.
Mercedes Team Boss Toto Wolff defined Bottas start as an “unfortunate mistake with huge consequences”, but this “will certainly not affect Mercedes’ decision on their drivers’ lineup”.
Lewis Hamilton, who was not involved in the wild chaos on lap 1, had however a pretty hard race. In fact, Mercedes misjudged track conditions at the race restart, keeping the seven-time world Champion out for the standing start on intermediates as the entire rest of the field pitted for mediums. Hamilton was then forced to pit a lap later and dropping to the back of the pack.
This is weird! Lewis is the only car to not box ahead of the restart. pic.twitter.com/L4EFshDnvD— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) August 1, 2021
According to Wolff, the team’s decision not to pit Hamilton was the right thing to do.
“It was 100% the right decision and I stand by it,” Wolff commented, “at the end, you have to make a call and decide if it is dry enough or not”.
“I thought that within one lap it couldn’t possibly dry up the way it did. It was a wrong outcome but the decision was right.
“And by the way, we calculated that we would have come out 6th with the train of cars coming into the pits,” the Team Principal concluded.
The Austrian boss was inquired about Hamilton’s conditions, as the Briton has reportedly been accompanied to the medical centre after the podium celebrations.
“I haven’t spoken to him yet. He’s with the doctor at the moment,” Wolff explained
“I think you can just relate to it, the heat out there is unbelievable and the race was very intense, with all the over takings and battles...that is exhausting”
“He should be all right but, you know, better safe than sorry”, he concluded.
Errors are creeping in more than in the past.
Even if Toto Wolff convincingly swears by his choice not to pit Lewis with the rest of the drivers, Mercedes might have lost the chance of cruising to the podium and securing additional points over their Red Bull rivals.
“I don’t think it was an error. Obviously now with hindsight, we can see we made a wrong call but in the moment, we thought it was the best strategy for us”
“We could have won today; we lost a lot of time behind Fernando and that probably cost us the victory,” said Wolff