Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas did not try to conceal his frustration after his team decided to go against his instinct to go for a two-stop strategy at the French Grand Prix on Sunday. As a result, Red Bull racing outperformed then for a second consecutive week as Red Bull's Max Verstappen claimed the victory.
"Why the **** does no one listen to me when I say that it's going to be a two-stopper?" said Bottas into his radio, after Verstappen took a second pit stop and flew through the field to eat up both Mercedes cars.
Bottas was not the only one who was furious and frustrated in the Mercedes garage, as team principal Toto Wolff and the rest of the crew could be seen looking anxious, disappointed, angry and baffled all at the same time.
In the end, Hamilton could only hold on to second place while Bottas was also passed by the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez for the final podium spot. P4 was a massive disappointment for the Finn, who felt that he could have been battling for the win if the team put him on a two-stopper as he had suggested.
Verstappen started on pole but slid off the track in the opening lap to hand Hamilton the lead. Bottas maintained his P3 starting position throughout most of the race, but everything went haywire for Mercedes when they decided to go for a single stop against Red Bull's two.
The Mercedes drivers took the first two spots after Verstappen went in for his second stop, but they struggled with their tyres in the closing stages as the Red Bulls were charging with fresher Pirellis. Bottas then ended up outside the podium after both Red Bulls passed him, and Hamilton was unable to defend the lead from the flying Dutchman and relinquished the position in the final two laps.
"I think the winning strategy today was a two-stop," said the Finn after the race. "Easy to say afterwards but that's how it is… I had no front tyres left for the last 10 to 15 laps, so I was just really trying to get the car home."
"[I felt] like a sitting duck, it's quite simple," he added. "If I did a two-stop, for sure I would have been on the podium and fighting for the win of the race, that's for sure."
Earlier this season, Hamilton called the team out after he lost positions due to a poor pit strategy in Monaco. This time, his teammate Bottas is the one who has become critical of the team's decisions. The season is becoming a lot more challenging than Mercedes had anticipated, and it remains to be seen how well they will cope with the pressure from Red Bull.