Azerbaijan GP – Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas finished P2 on Sunday, despite suffering damage and a puncture on the opening lap.
The Mercedes man started from P2 at the start of the race, but came under severe pressure from compatriot Kimi Raikkonen on the run to Turn 2. Pushed to the inside by the Ferrari, Raikkonen was able to get around the outside of the Mercedes and looked as though he was set to get through cleanly. However, Bottas appeared to misjudge his braking and interlocked his right front wheel with the Ferrari’s left-rear, resulting in the pair making heavy contact.
The Ferrari hit the wall hard but was able to keep going; Bottas suffered an immediate front right puncture and front wing damage. Pitting at the end of the first lap, he fell to the very back of the field.
From there, Bottas made use of the Safety Car rules to get back onto the lead lap and slowly worked his way up the field. Capitalising on incidents, accidents, and the calamities that hit Sebastian Vettel & Lewis Hamilton, he found himself fighting for the podium positions in the closing stages and gaining rapidly on P2, which was held by Williams’ Lance Stroll. With the Williams entering the final long finishing straight, Bottas used his DRS and the aerodynamic tow to swoop past the teenager just before the chequered flag and claim P2.
“Today was a crazy race, especially for me. I had a puncture on the first lap after the contact with Kimi on Lap 1. I was a lap down, then had to overtake the field under the Safety Car. The second Safety Car after that really helped me out and, step by step, I moved forward from there.”
“My main goal today was to fight for the win but that went out of the window after the first lap. I was actually last at one point, but I got my head down, gave it absolutely everything and tried to get the absolute maximum out of every single corner. We didn’t quite manage to win but P2 from where we were is a great feeling. Importantly for the team, we scored more points in the fight with Ferrari and I got some good points for myself as well.”
Team boss Toto Wolff said his driver’s performance was a perfect demonstration of why all is never lost in F1: “It just goes to show you can never give up. He did a sensational job from a lap down and it was the perfect finale to steal P2 on the line.”
Bottas is now on 111 points, third in the driver’s championship behind Hamilton & Vettel.