Bahrain Grand Prix – Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas has just maintained his championship lead after finishing P2 in Sunday’s race at Sakhir.
Valtteri Bottas had a largely solitary race on Sunday, en route to P2. Having started from fourth on the grid, the Finn outdragged Lewis Hamilton into Turn 1 before overtaking Charles Leclerc further around the opening lap as the Ferrari driver struggled for grip. However, an error on Lap 2 put him in the clutches of Leclerc and Hamilton again, and he was shuffled back to P4.
Running an originally planned one stopper by taking on the Mediums for the mid-section of the race, Bottas lost touch with the leaders as he struggled with tyre life and an errant plastic bag that hampered his aerodynamics. With those around him triggering a raft of second stops, he was consigned to finish off the podium before a spin for Vettel and an engine problem for Leclerc meant he was able to bring his car home in second place.
“There were many points that were very interesting and exciting in that race and good fun – but then there were points in that race where I felt quite lonely! I didn’t see anyone. I had a great start to the race, I managed to get into P2 but then on Lap One into Turn One I think the wind caught me up a bit, I braked a bit too late into Turn One, trying to keep my position, and I lost two places – so back to fourth place. I think Ferrari, ultimately, was very, very strong again today, like yesterday – but yeah, during the times with the wind I ended-up doing some mistakes,like I think some other drivers did as well, and it was extremely difficult to keep the rhythm – but yeah, there were some good battles and so on. I managed to save the engine at some point when there was no threat from behind and a big gap in front.”
Explaining why he felt he’d been lacking a little bit of pace, he said: “I had a plastic bag stuck on my front wing at some point, which was costing performance, so not the perfect race but in the end, luck was on our side and we’ll definitely take it – especially me, after all the bad luck last year.”
Bottas maintains his championship lead by a single point – the point awarded for his fastest lap in Australia. Asked about his thoughts on the new rule for 2019 keeping him in the lead, Bottas said: “They are points that will count at the end of the championship. Obviously, now, at this point, it doesn’t matter much but what matters is at the end of the championship and we’ve seen many championships finishing with very small margins. Today it was a bit out of reach with the strong pace of Ferrari, they got it, but yeah, for sure while there is this opportunity it’s going to be important but anyways, even though it felt a super-difficult race I’m happy to be getting this amount of points because in the end, consistency is going to be the key.”