Valtteri Bottas started his day with a penalty of three places, pushing him back to sixth on the starting grid of the Grand Prix of Qatar. The Finn completely missed his start, plunging to 11th place.
Rewound at the cost of an offbeat strategy which made him stay 33 laps on medium tires, the Mercedes F1 driver did not reach his first stop, victim of a puncture in the front left. Left at the back of the pack, he finally gave up.
« Apart from the first lap which was not good, the start of the race went well, I managed to recover and the pace was good. I think we could have been on the podium » explains Bottas, who had yet to make his stop.
He hoped to be able to pick up Sergio Pérez at the end of the race: « I had a few DRS activations but also traffic, I should have come out about five seconds behind, but with much cooler tires. »
« I’m quite surprised on the first lap, in the formation lap already, I didn’t manage to heat up the tires, and it was the same after the start, in the first corners. »
No warning before puncture
Bottas was surprised by his puncture, which sent him off track twice. He absolutely did not see the problem coming, unlike some such incidents which can present warning signs.
« I had no warning before the puncture, there was no vibration, no loss of grip, and the feeling of the car was normal, usual. It wasn’t business as usual where we were have vibrations that we are monitoring, there was nothing at all and it happened. «
“At the start I thought the wind was picking up in the pit lane because I felt the car was going awry, but then I had a flat tire in the first corner and obviously it was at the most unlucky point, just after exiting the pits. «
The Finn finally gave up, Mercedes F1 deciding not to risk more damage that would have incurred costs: « It was too damaged, we didn’t want to break it any further. When we saw that there was no chance of points, we saved mileage for the engine as well. »