Valtteri Bottas still cautious on Mercedes' form

BY Adam Cooper • June 16, 2017

Valtteri Bottas says that Mercedes got the W08 working well with the Pirelli tires in Montreal, but the Finn cautioned that it’s too early to say that the same form will carry over to future races.

Mercedes struggled badly in Monaco, but the team bounced back in Canada, where Lewis Hamilton won and Bottas was second – their first one-two of 2017.

“Montreal is obviously a different circuit to Monaco,” said Bottas. “The surface is quite smooth compared to some other ones. I can’t say we have a car now that works everywhere. Here we got it working in the race really well, we got it to work in qualifying, especially with Lewis. I think we made pretty good progress with the set-up of the car, getting everything to work and more in the window.

“Baku is a new challenge, it’s not like Monaco, it is a street circuit, but maybe more like this one. We should be OK, but we’re definitely glad there’s no race like Monaco in the calendar any more. That really highlighted the weaknesses we have, so we need to keep working on those.”

Bottas finished a distant second in Canada, but said that a variety of factors conspired to hamper his challenge. His troubles started when he lost out to Max Verstappen at the start, and by the time the Dutchman retired on lap 11, he had lost touch with Hamilton, and was struggling with a tire vibration and brake issues.

He stopped much earlier than this teammate, and was equipped with soft rather than the supersoft tires Hamilton took later. He then lost time behind Esteban Ocon, who had yet to pit. He eventually finished 19.7s adrift of Hamilton, who said that he did not have to push the car.

“I honestly don’t think there was much of a difference between our pace. In the first stint I was initially behind the Red Bull. I had a big lock-up, I was having difficulties to see at the end of the straights, and also brakes overheating behind Verstappen. I had to save them, lift and coasting, and stuff life that.

“Then when I stopped we decided to go for the soft tire, which I completely understand, because already at that point Lewis was quite far away, there was nothing really for me to lose to try and go for the soft. The feeling for me with the soft on Friday was quite good, with the hotter temps we thought it worked really well. But it wasn’t quick enough I think, and we lost I don’t know how many seconds behind Ocon. Lewis’s supersofts seemed very solid, very quick.

“The Force Indias, they’re quite low drag, they’re fast on the straight, they seem to have good traction also out of the last hairpin. Definitely it wasn’t easy, and he was defending well. I was getting closer and close and the opportunities were going to come. But already time was lost when he stopped.”

Bottas felt that he could have had the same speed as Hamilton: “I don’t think in the race I struggled massively. Things were not aligned for me today to fight for the win. I think yesterday was a bit tricky, especially Q3, but otherwise not my best weekend, but not bad either. Really for us as a team, the first one-two of the year, these are the results that we need.”

Bottas conceded that he didn’t know how the team could have got him past Verstappen, had the Dutchman not retired.

“Not sure to be honest, we didn’t really go through that. I got kind of lucky that Max had a DNF there. I think relative to Red Bull we definitely had more pace. And it would have been an opportunity at the pit stop to get in front of him, or by putting pressure all through the race. The only worry is if I had been stuck behind him for a long time, my front brakes would have overheated.”

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