Valtteri Bottas arrived in Spain with confidence after securing his first Formula 1 race victory in Russia, but the weekend at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya was ultimately disappointing, with the Finn retiring thanks to a mechanical issue.
The Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team racer had already changed engines during the weekend, returning to a previous specification power unit after problems with the updated power unit, but, whilst on his way to an almost-certain podium finish, he pulled off the track on lap 59 to retire.
“It’s been a tough weekend,” said Bottas. “We had problems straight from practice, when we had to swap to the old engine on Saturday morning. Then today we had an engine failure in the race. We don’t know any more than that at this stage.
“We knew it was a risk switching back to the old Power Unit in terms of the mileage but we didn’t if we wanted to qualify yesterday. At least we got more points than Ferrari today in spite of the retirement.”
Bottas’ race started with a small touch with Kimi Raikkonen’s Scuderia Ferrari, which prompted a chain reaction with the other Finn on the grid then colliding with Max Verstappen, ending both of their afternoon’s with broken suspensions.
“The first corner was very tight,” admitted Bottas. “I had a good start but there was no where to go. I tried to avoid the collision but I touched Kimi.”
Before his retirement, Bottas had appeared to be running off the pace compared to team-mate Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, but the Finn revealed that the plan was to pit only once, and had it not been for the Virtual Safety Car, it was possible he would have come into contention later in the race for the win.
“Lewis was on a different strategy while I was running long,” said Bottas. “We tried to execute a one-stop which is why I was lapping slower at that point. It could have been a rewarding strategy but with the Virtual Safety Car the guys in front had a free pit stop.
“We should have both been on the podium today. It’s always disappointing when you don’t finish but we’ll pick ourselves up and move on.”