Valtteri Bottas has described last weekend’s British GP as “one of my best ever races,” having recovered to finish second after a gearbox penalty demoted him to ninth on the grid after qualifying.
The Mercedes driver went on the alternate strategy of a long opening stint on the soft tyre, using clean air towards the end of his first stint followed by fresh supersoft tyres during his second stint to overtake championship Sebastian Vettel near the end of the race.
What had looked to be a third place finish turned into a runners-up spot after tyre trouble befell the lead Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen only three laps from the end, and while he finished a fair margin behind team-mate Lewis Hamilton, was left more than satisfied with the outcome of his race.
“What a race!” he said afterwards. “I’m really happy for us as a team, to get the second 1-2 of the season. Of course I would have liked to win, but I’m happy anyway because that was definitely one of my best ever races. I had to fight hardcore out there a couple of times, but I ended up in a good position.”
The effectiveness of his strategy came even as a surprise to Bottas himself, the Mercedes proving to be much kinder to its tyres than the rival Ferraris which both suffered front-left tyre failures in the closing laps of the race.
“We could actually go longer than expected in the first stint on the Softs and the tyres were really good. In the last stint the team told me to just take care of the tyres, because we saw a few failures out there for some other teams, but for me they were fine. We definitely got lucky with Kimi’s puncture in the end, to take P2, but that’s racing and today luck was on our side.”
While he was happy with his performance on the day, the Finn still seemed somewhat disappointed not to be in a position to challenge for the win, choosing to focus on the team result rather than his own podium finish. With the gap having now widened slightly to Hamilton in the world championship from 19 to 22 points after Silverstone, he was keen to stress there was a long way to go in deciding the outcome of the title.
“As a team we did a really good job today. The strategy right from the start of the race worked really well. It was a flawless race for us and the 1-2 was our prize – the team really deserve this. We’re just at the half-way point of the season and it could definitely be worse. It’s still just my first year with the team and I’m still right in the championship fight.”