Valtteri Bottas turned his 27th grand prix start into his first ever Formula 1 podium at the Austrian Grand Prix, where he qualified second and went on to be the ‘best of the rest’ as Mercedes found their dominance again, at Red Bull Ring. Bottas spoke about his afternoon’s work in the Styrian countryside.
Your best-ever grand prix finish to follow up your best-ever Qualifying performance yesterday – you’re starting to really make your mark on the sport. I guess the decisive moment for you was the first round of stops with Felipe and getting ahead.
VB: Yeah, I think overall the best-ever weekend. So, really happy. Really happy for us as a team. We were really strong the whole weekend and that’s down to all the hard work. Of course it was a good track for us. You never know what’s going to happen in the next race but overall we are making progress. Step-by-step we are getting there, getting closer to the positions where we belong. I’m really happy. The race today: it was really nice to have a really nice, clean race. Good points for the team. We’ve had some issues lately, been a lot of talk, not maximising car we had but I think today we showed what we can do.
Do you think with a slightly different strategy the win could have been possible today because your pace was quite strong and you were simply undercut by first Nico and then Lewis at both pit stops?
VB: Yeah, it’s a difficult one. We need to always – like we always do – we need to analyse if there’s anything we could have done better. It’s difficult to say. Today it was difficult to know the real difference between the Option and Prime because the Prime has been taking quite a long time to warm up so we really thought it would be really difficult to undercut because it takes many laps to warm up and get a good pace after the Super-soft tyre. Yeah, we need to analyse, it’s difficult to say. Yeah, too early to say. For the moment, I’m really happy with what we’ve done as a team, third and fourth. Obviously we always aim for better.
Yesterday at Williams you looked in a way pretty sure you wouldn’t win the race…
I think that from all the data that we had from practice we knew that in the race it was going to be difficult and overall Mercedes have still got the quickest car but we really nailed it yesterday so we knew that maybe Sunday could be difficult but actually it was a bit better than I expected. We were really close to them on pace.
Was that because it was 14 degrees warmer today than it was on Friday, do you think?
VB: Difficult to say that was the factor or not, I don’t know what Mercedes did just before Qualifying with the car set-up. I don’t know. It’s difficult to say; we need to analyse.