Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff says he understands Valtteri Bottas’ frustrations but dismissed his driver’s claim that his Bahrain Grand Prix strategy was “not quite normal”.

Bottas was left unhappy with the strategic choices made by Mercedes as he finished a distant third in the season-opening race at Sakhir, with the Finn describing being stuck on the same strategy as teammate Lewis Hamilton as “defensive” and “not quite normal”.

Mercedes decided that a strategy of trying to undercut Red Bull Max Verstappen - as successfully pulled off by Hamilton - was the best option after Bottas lost vital time when he fell behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc at the start.

Having regrouped following his early setback, Bottas did bring himself into play during the middle phase of the race as he shadowed the leading duo, only for a botched pit stop to ruin his chances. Mercedes stopped Bottas for a third time towards the end in a bid to score the extra point for fastest lap, which he claimed.

“I think there wasn't any strategy on the table,” Wolff said. “Because we tried to undercut also with Valtteri that I think would change race for him.

“The outcome we wouldn’t wish for was that he lost a position at the start of the race and he kind of couldn't recover the gap to the two guys in front. The pitstop was there to undercut Max and I think we would probably have been successful, but we had a problem with the right front wheel gun.

“Then I don't know what other strategy we could have run. The one stop was clearly not possible. The medium wouldn't have made it to the end, the hard in the middle stage was running out of performance.

“There was no other option available. But I totally understand the frustration in the car when you have limited information and say 'I think we could have done something else.’”

Hamilton went on to win by just 0.745s over Verstappen following a thrilling conclusion to the race, while Bottas finished nearly 40 seconds behind the pair.

 

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