Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver Valtteri Bottas said that a lack of grip at the start of the race caused wheel spin, subsequently losing him both the position and the race.
Bottas started the Brazilian Grand Prix on pole, but lost first place in the first corner to Scuderia Ferrari‘s Sebastian Vettel. He fell back on the first lap and, whilst he looked like he might have been able to find a way past the Ferrari when he opted to try the undercut and pit earlier, Vettel pitted one lap later and just stayed in front. This is the way the race finished, with Bottas staying a fairly consistent two seconds behind the German until the flag and nursing tyre issues.
Far from just the race win being on the line, Bottas had a more pertinent reason for getting passed Vettel – the championship. Bottas went into the race just fifteen points behind Vettel in second place, meaning that a win would have closed the gap even further and kept the battle for second even closer. With Vettel winning and Bottas second, this stretches the gap to twenty-two points, leaving Bottas’ hopes hanging on a win for the Finn and a non-points finish for the German.
Speaking on the race, Bottas said, “I think we lost the race in the first corner. When I dropped the clutch at the start initially, there was less grip than I expected, so I broke the traction and got some wheel spin. Seb got a better getaway and managed to get on the inside.
“That is unfortunate because the race pace between us and Ferrari was very close today and we had a similar strategy.
“When we went for the Softs, we tried the undercut and tried to attack with the new tyres, but there was no way to get past. We wanted to attack in the very end again but, when I was trying to pick up the pace again, there was nothing left in the tyres.
“After the good result yesterday, I had very high hopes for today. But if you look at the positives, it has been a much better weekend for me personally than I had for a while. And it was not a bad result for us as a team looking at the position where Lewis started today, so that’s good.”