Bottas: Disastrous Bahrain GP pit stop ‘can‘t happen again’


Valtteri Bottas' opening race of 2024 in Bahrain was a nightmare for the Sauber driver, culminating in a disastrous 52.4-second pit stop that effectively ended his challenge.

Starting from a lowly 16th on the grid, Bottas’ evening was first compromised at the very first corner when he got caught in the crossfire of an incident between Lance Stroll and Nico Hulkenberg that damaged the Finn’s front wing.

However, the most significant blow came during his mid-race ruinous pit stop. A routine tyre change from softs to hards was undermined by a cross-threaded wheel nut that Bottas stranded for over 52 seconds while the mechanics frantically tried to fix the issue.

The blunder effectively ruined Bottas' race, as he was forced to limp back to the track and settle for a disappointing 19th place finish.

“Obviously there was an issue with the wheel nut,” said the 34-year-old after the 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!”

Beyond Bottas’ misfortune, there were positive signs for Sauber on the other side of its garage thanks to a solid display at Sakhir by Zhou Guanyu.

Starting a lowly 17th, the Chinese driver clawed his way back to finish a commendable 11th, just behind the Aston Martins of Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll.

The performance suggests promise for the all-new Kick Sauber C44, leaving Zhou cautiously optimistic.


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

“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.

“Over the whole course of the weekend, coming back to the testing, we were changing a lot on the set-up,” Zhou 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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