Valtteri Bottas felt his Australian Grand Prix was compromised early by his run on the Ultrasoft tyre as it did not give him the grip or confidence he had hoped for, but his race came alive when he made the switch to the Soft tyre.
The Finn secured a podium finish for third place on his first appearance as a Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver following his off-season switch from Williams Martini Racing, but he says Sebastian Vettel and Scuderia Ferrari just had the edge on performance on race day.
“There are always things that could have gone better on the day but it’s a good starting point for my journey driving for Mercedes,” said Bottas. “As a team I think we did a really good job with the car we had.
“But Ferrari were quicker today, there’s no doubt about that. They’ve obviously done a great job over the winter.”
Bottas lost significant ground to his team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the early stages of the Grand Prix but once the Soft tyre was bolted on, he found a decent groove and ultimately closed the gap, finishing just 1.275 seconds behind.
“From my side the main issue was the first stint,” said Bottas. “I felt like I was always sliding around on the UltraSoft tyre – missing front and rear grip – especially after 10 laps. That wasn’t easy. But once we stuck on the Softs I had a great feeling with the car. It was behaving really nicely and it felt really nice to drive.
“It’s a shame it was just a bit too late. But overall this race wasn’t a disaster. It’s good to start with a podium with a new team and every position is important for the Championship. There’s a long season ahead. I have my points and I’ll do better next time. I’m looking forward to China.”