Although Bottas initially qualified 3rd for the race at the legendary track on the streets of Monaco, he started second on the grid after Leclerc who qualified on pole was not able to even start his home race, due to the fact that his team did not inspect his car properly after his shunt in the last part of the qualifying on Saturday. Despite a decent start the race, Bottas’ pace began to wither away fast, influenced by the problems with his tyres. When he came for the pitstop, an issue with changing one of the tyres meant game over for the Finnish driver. Here are a couple of things that he had to say after the surprising DNF.
Sunday 🇮🇩— Valtteri Bottas (@ValtteriBottas) May 23, 2021
Bad luck. Can’t put into words how disappointing it is to DNF. With the efforts we have put into this weekend again and to get 0 points. Learning day for us as a team. But we stick together & come back stronger!#VB77 #F1 #MonacoGP@mercedesamgf1 @f1
📷 S.Etherington pic.twitter.com/QzL78DAWgJ
“From my side, I was basically, I noticed it was a slow pitstop and then I was calculating, ok, that probably Sainz is going to pass, then it was gonna be Norris, or whoever was behind, and then when it came down to like 40 seconds or something, I couldn’t believe it. It was obviously disappointing, a situation that we need to make sure it never happens again, it was a big mistake.”
The Finnish driver was then asked if he ever wonders why those sort of things keep happening to him, and if its something that has to do with his own team. To that, he answered: “Sometimes I do. But no, not really. I think its bad luck from my side but yeah you know its something, as a team, its gonna be a big priority going into the next race.”
Bottas admitted that such an issue did not happen to him before, and that at the time of the interview he still had no idea what has caused the issue. He believes that although there is nobody really to blame for that, the pit stop performance of Mercedes is not the strongest one. As he said: “I’ve never had that before, and I’ve never finished a race in a pit stop I think, so its quite strange that that can happen. And yeah I don’t know yet the full details of what actually happened, if it was a human error or mechanical issue or whatever but we will find out. They [the pitstops] haven’t been perfect this year and as I said this is going to be a big priority going forward. It has not been the strongest point of us, I mean there is no one to blame, as a team we need to get better in that.“
As mentioned before, although Bottas had a decent start to the race, and he was matching Verstappen at a certain point, his pace began to slowly disappear, influenced by the issues with tyres, especially the front left. When asked about his stint, he replied: “I think between lap 15 to 20 it [the pace] was fine, but then Max started to lift his pace and the more I had to push, the front left tyre started to give up, I think more than his, so I lost a bit of round. Because there was a gap when we stopped I think it would have been hard to really battle for the win, but obviously we would have tried any way we can, at least second place should have been possible today.”
Reminiscing about his start, he said: “I think my start was good, I gained a little bit of the front on him, and then obviously he defended, he was drifting to the right and I had to lift otherwise we would have crashed basically so yeah I mean he was still ahead so he can defend, but obviously hard with the limits, there was nowhere to go.”
After Bottas was out of the race, it meant there was basically no other risk to Verstappen and his first maiden win at the Monaco GP. With Perez on 4th and Verstappen’s win, the Red Bull team replaced Mercedes not only in the drivers championship, but also in the constructors one. Asked about the Red Bull’s advantage over Mercedes as well as the upcoming race in Azerbaijan, Bottas answered: “I think the next race is different to this one, I mean this is a really unique track and we always knew coming here its not gonna be the strongest track for our car, I think Baku might be hopefully better. You know, they [red bull] have a strong package, they’ve shown in every race weekend that they’re there, involved in qualifying and the race and no doubt its gonna be close, but I would hope we have better performance in Baku.”
Bottas has been plagued with performance issues this season, so will Baku be finally a moment of breakthrough for the Finnish driver?