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Bottas unconcerned by deficit to Hamilton in French GP

Spielberg, Austria

Austrian Grand Prix – Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas says the large gap Lewis Hamilton pulled on him in last Sunday’s French Grand Prix isn’t a concern, saying he understands why it happened.

Bottas finished almost twenty seconds behind his teammate last time out in France, having been steadily dropped throughout the ninety minute race at Paul Ricard. Without any incidents or accidents affecting the gap, Bottas says figuring out the reason for the time loss was important going into this weekend’s race:

“It’s very important to understand why and be honest with yourself. We’ve been through the whole race and there was many things affecting the big margin. I couldn’t imagine the size of the gap, but now we understand why. Driving style wise, tyre wise, Lewis did the better job on Sunday and that made the difference especially from halfway through the stint to the end. Also, we had quite a different setup direction for the first time this year – they were quite extreme and it didn’t play into my side on Sunday at all.”

“I’ve had a good reset since then, and there’s no point in worrying about it any more. I know what I can do in the car so…happy days.”

Having come under intense pressure from Charles Leclerc right at the chequered flag as the Ferrari driver got within DRS range, Bottas said it was down to managing his tyres that allowed him to get so close: “There was a lot of management going on, particularly in the last ten laps, that allowed Charles to get so close. Particularly with blistering on the front tyres. Some of the high speed corners, I really had to manage. But of course, there was some margin to push a bit more. After the VSC, I lost a lot of front temperature and couldn’t get it back. It was close, but he never had a chance to make a move. I struggled more with tyre wear than others.”

Heading to Austria, a track where Ferrari were strong last year and are expected to be more competitive this year thanks to the long straights, Bottas says that this weekend is going to be a tricky one: “There’s some long straights and, even on the short tracks, Ferrari seem to be able to gain on the straights. There’s quite a few corners here too and we’re strong on medium and high speed corners like in the final sector. It’s going to be a challenge here and reliability, temperature and efficiency of the power unit and brakes is going to be critical.”

Taking an older Spec 1 unit for this weekend after worries over his new Spec 2 engine developing a misfire in France, Bottas says he’s optimistic of closing in a little on Lewis Hamilton’s 27 point championship lead: “In the past, this has been a good track for me and the challenge is to keep it that way. Every year, you can find something new though, so I’m looking forward to this weekend.”

“There’s been a couple of poles this year that I haven’t turned into a win and that was down to race starts. I’m continuing to progress and obviously sometimes there’s good ones and bad ones, and it’s all about minimising the bad ones. I’ve been working a lot on those and I’ve seen improvements on that since the start of the year.”

“I haven’t been able to do perfect weekends every weekend recently but I’m glad there’s thirteen to go. The next few races are going to be really important. Looking far ahead, I need to start closing the gap if I want to close the championship fight. Achieving it, I have to focus on today and what I do with the engineers.”

“This is my best season so far, and the only thing slightly annoying is that I should have done better. It’s in me but, qualifying laps, tyre management, minimising mistakes, it’s been good but there’s always things to improve.”

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Thomas Maher

Co-owner, Chief Editor and a journalist for FormulaSpy.com - Ireland's only accredited F1 & Formula E website. Also working in the Irish radio broadcasting industry. Donations: PayPal - paypal.me/thomasmaheronf1 ETH/ERC20 - 0x9d0b8071180AAcB0bD5f0c1d43281768C73e8763

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