Despite finishing almost twenty-seconds behind his team-mate in the Canadian Grand Prix, Valtteri Bottas believes he had the pace to match Lewis Hamilton if it wasn’t for a variety of issues that hampered his progress.
Bottas maintained his third position at the start of the race by leaping ahead of Sebastian Vettel but losing out to a flying Max Verstappen. Until the Dutchman’s retirement on lap 11, Bottas was unable to make ground on the Red Bull Racing driver and lost touch with Hamilton too.
Bottas then made his pit-stop earlier than Hamilton, complaining of tyre vibration and brake issues, and was switched onto the soft tyres whereas Hamilton would be fitted with the quicker supersofts.
The Finn was then stuck behind the Sahara Force India of Esteban Ocon as the Frenchman ran a longer first stint. If it weren’t for these issues, Bottas believes he could have matched Hamilton’s pace at the front.
“I honestly don’t think there was much of a difference between our pace,” Bottas told motorsport.com. “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 tyre, 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.”
Asked if he would have been able to get by Verstappen had he not retired, Bottas wasn’t sure.
“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 pitstop 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.”