Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport driver Valtteri Bottas admitted that dropping from first to fourth in the last few laps of the British Grand Prix “feels pretty bad” – especially as he “could have easily taken second place“.
Bottas started third on the grid, but was almost immediately promoted to second thanks to a poor start by team-mate Lewis Hamilton. From there he followed the leading car of Sebastian Vettel, unable to catch the German and remaining behind him after the first round of pit stops.
Whilst it looked like Bottas would remain behind Vettel for the duration of the race, a surprise safety car threw teams a strategy curveball. With Scuderia Ferrari driver Vettel in front, Mercedes decided to do the opposite of what Vettel did – ultimately choosing to leave him out, giving him track position but on older, slower tyres.
The first safety car restart saw Bottas go early and create a good gap to Vettel behind, though racing quickly came to a halt as Romain Grosjean and Carlos Sainz Jr. collided and caused another safety car period. The second restart saw Bottas do much the same and, with a gap to Vettel, it looked like he could take his first win of the season. This belief was affirmed as Bottas defended against Vettel for lap after lap, fending him off time and again at the Brooklands corner. This wasn’t to last though, and unfortunately for the Finn Vettel found a way passed with only a handful of laps to go – and opened the floodgates in the process.
The next few laps saw former leader Bottas fall to fourth, falling victim to overtakes from Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Räikkönen.
Speaking after the race, Bottas said that whilst the team gambled for a race win and lost, “one day” they will win that gamble.
“I’m very disappointed, leading the race and then dropping to fourth in the last few laps feels pretty bad.
“The others pitted under the Safety Car, but we took the risk and stayed out to get ahead of Sebastian. It worked out initially, everything felt fine in the beginning. I was giving it everything I could in the re-starts, I had to push like in qualifying, but with about five laps to go, the tyres just could not take it any more.
“I tried everything to not give up the lead, but there was nothing I could do at that point to defend against the others on the fresher tyres. We knew a one-stop was not going to be easy, but we decided to take the risk.
“Unfortunately, that stint on the Medium tyres was just a bit too long today. It’s always easy to judge these things in hindsight, but at the point we made the call to stay out I was on the same page. I could have easily taken second place today, but we decided to go for it. I will continue to give it everything and I’m sure that one day it will work out.“