Valtteri Bottas managed to keep his starting position in today's Spanish GP. He was off to a not easy start, since he was overtaken by Charles Leclerc during the first lap, but, following a two-stopper strategy like his teammate Lewis Hamilton, had enough pace to regain the podium.
The Finnish driver said that Leclerc passed him only because he didn't see him on his outside:"Definitely the main thing for me in the race was losing the place to Charles on lap one and then going into turn 3, Lewis lifted quite a bit and I didn't see him pass on the outside. When I saw him it was too late and that compromised the first stint of the race."
However, he was pleased with his car's performance, and with the fact that he returned on the podium again after Portimao, regardless of losing a position during the race start: "I think we had the pace. Lewis showed he could win the race. I don't think our pace was dissimilar."
A main talking point was Mercedes's suggestion of not "holding up" Hamilton, who was fighting with Max Verstappen for the win. Bottas explained in the post race interview that he could have let in his teammate before, but that he stalled to gain advantage on Leclerc's Ferrari in order to complete a second pit.
"I could have definitely let him by earlier but I was doing my own race as well. So, always calculating things and I was trying to get Charles off my pit window so I could stop again and go for extra points. The main thing in my mind was my own race."
"I am not here to let people by and race," the Mercedes driver concluded.
Bottas returned on the topic during the post race press conference, adding that he was doing the best thing for him and his team: "As a racing driver you prioritise yourself, your race, because that’s what you do. But also you work as a team so you don’t want to ruin the win for the team if it’s not possible for you. So I tried to do the best thing I could for us as a team and for myself."
He said that it's isn't an easy choice, but that he believes he's done alright:"It’s always hard doing those kind of things. Ask the other driver if he predicts what’s going to happen and where to go, but I think in the end it was kind of OK.”
Bottas scored today his third podium of the season, which helped Mercedes to extend their constructor championship advantage on Red Bull to 29 points. He also gained a position in the driver's championship, surpassing Lando Norris in P3.