Although Valtteri Bottas had no answer to his teammate Lewis Hamilton during the Spanish Grand Prix, the Finn did enough to ensure that his team finished the race in Barcelona one-two as the Mercedes big bosses watched from the sidelines – the world champions could not have picked a better race day to find the brutal performance that has eluded them of late.
Bottas spoke about his afternoon on the podium and to reporters during the post-race press conference:
A very solid day. A better strategy there to beat the Ferrari in the end after he got past. Are you happy with it?
Valtteri Bottas: Well, of course I wanted to fight for the win of the race today, but for us as a team it such a good race. We had such a good car and the team was so reactive today with the strategy. I never believed that we could do one stop, but we could, so with that I’m happy.
You need a little bit of luck on your side, but what here and next? In front of the Mercedes-Benz management, you sit [at the top of the] the Constructors Championship and that’s exactly what you set out to do, isn’t it?
VB: Indeed. I think, as a team, this weekend we have been perfect, and we just need to continue like that and for me also the wins are going to come.
Three second-places in five races. When you have to lose, does it make it any easier when you lose to your team-mate?
VB: Well, you know, there’s always a big part of me, if we’re one-two, and if I’m second and Lewis wins, big part of me is really happy for us as a team – because that means we are strong as a team and we are getting the results we want. But then of course there’s always a part of me not happy being second because I want to win races – but it’s still a long year ahead and y’know, I’m a racer but I’m also a team player but, for sure, second is not ideal but for us today, it couldn’t be better for us as a team.
Were you surprised to see Vettel pit under the Virtual Safety Car?
VB: Yes, and no. We honestly never thought it would be possible to do the race quickly with one stop but the conditions changed and the tyres were behaving better than expected today, then it was possible. I’m happy the team was so reactive and we could spot that and maybe Ferrari didn’t. I think we have good racing intelligence today.
As in raw speed, do you feel you could have beat Sebastian?
VB: Yes. It felt like I had a lot more pace all through the race. As everyone knows it’s extremely difficult to overtake here and I could always put pressure on him when we needed – but you need such a big gap between the pace to get through. We were waiting for the next opportunity as we missed the first opportunity during the first pitstop, waiting for the second pitstop if we could have done anything. I think there would have been a chance and I think with the strong car we had today, there would have been opportunities later. So… but yeah, I’m happy we made better decisions as a team and could get ahead like that.