Spanish Grand Prix – Valtteri Bottas said he could’ve let Lewis Hamilton past earlier but that he was more focused on not compromising his own race.
In the latter stages of the race Lewis Hamilton, who had been right behind race leader Max Verstappen before he made a second pit stop, was putting in quick laps to close what had been a 23 second gap to challenge for the win. Bottas was sitting second after his teammate’s stop and as the reigning champion caught up to him, the Finn was asked by Mercedes not to hold Hamilton up.
Bottas however didn’t have conceding the place overly high on his to-do list which meant the Brit had to fight his teammate and was slowed down as a result. The Finnish driver explained to Sky F1 afterwards that he could’ve made things easier but isn’t “here to let people by.”
“I definitely could have let him by earlier, “Bottas told Sky. “But I was doing my own race so I was calculating things, trying to get Charles off the pit window so I could stop again and try and go for the extra point. The main thing in my mind was my own race. They told me not to hold him up too much but, like I said, I was doing my race and I’m not here to let people by, I’m here to race.”
Bottas had started the race third but lost the position to the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc early on the opening lap. The Ferrari couldn’t keep up with the pace of the leading duo and the Mercedes driver couldn’t find a way past Leclerc on track.
Instead Mercedes put the undercut to good use and regained third when Leclerc pitted a few laps later than them. It was too late for Bottas to get involved in the fight for victory as he’d lost too much time so securing third was the best he could do.
“Today the main issue was in lap 1 turn 3 Charles got by and here if you lose a track position it definitely means trouble. It was costing me a lot of time in the first stint and also the Safety Car restart, I couldn’t get him, so I was stuck behind him and losing ground to Lewis and Max so that was it really. To be honest I didn’t see Chalres in turn 3, once I saw him on the outside going a lot quicker than me then it was too late, so I’ll need to review that.”
Overall Bottas was satisfied with a double points finish for the team but disappointed at having to settle for anything less than victory and rueing the a mistake in qualifying yesterday that would otherwise have seen him on the front row instead.
“I think if I would’ve been a tenth quicker yesterday the race would’ve been probably a bit different and a bit better battle. I think we had a good car, it’s not a huge difference to Red Bull but today I think we were strong. I’m happy that we could get more points than them as a team, that’s always good, but obviously it was not perfect and we always aim for perfection.
“Personally I’m not happy to be third, wouldn’t be happy to be second, that’s how it goes so there’s always more you can do and I’ll keep pushing. As a team I think this weekend we learnt again a lot and hopefully we can take that to the future,”