It was a nightmare weekend for Valtteri Bottas at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix as he failed to score points for the third time in six events in 2021. Unlike Monaco, it was his performance that has come under scrutiny following a disastrous race.
Former F1 driver Jolyon Palmer tore into Bottas for his performance on BBC’s F1 Chequered Flag Podcast, especially when it comes to racing other cars. The Brit believes the Finn is really poor in wheel-to-wheel combat.
Bottas lost places to Sainz, Ricciardo, Alonso and Raikkonen on the first green flag lap after the Safety Car was deployed following Lance Stroll’s tyre failure.
“He was stuck behind Lando Norris, but on the same strategy, same power unit, in a car that Hamilton was certainly a lot quicker than the McLaren in,” said Palmer.
“Bottas in wheel-to-wheel, every single time you see it, he is really poor at wheel-to-wheel fighting.
“You put him in the midfield with a bunch of cars around him, he will not go forwards. At best he will hold position, probably he will go backwards.
“Can you remember a good overtake of Bottas’? You struggle to think of overtakes that Bottas does. He is in the midfield and he stays in the midfield. Or, he just gets shuffled down.
“The restart that he had was a little bit like the start in Monza last year, where he started at the front [P2] and at every corner just got shuffled down: next car next car next car; [he] fell down to like 6th and then just stays there. It was the same here [in Baku], only he started 9th and fell down to 13th.
“In the end, he beat Mick Schumacher, Nikita Mazepin, Hamilton who did a U-turn in the run-off area, and Latifi who had a stop/go penalty.”
As well as Bottas’ lack of aggression, Palmer talked about the big deficit he had to Hamilton all weekend.
The Finnish driver was over a second slower than his teammate in FP2, FP3, Q1 and Q3. He was almost a second slower in FP1 and over half a second off in Q2.
In the race, he was nearly half a minute adrift of Hamilton before the Safety Car period following Lance Stroll’s nasty crash.
“Bottas was just a midfielder all weekend,” Palmer added.
“Hamilton turned it on, and to be fair to him when you compare his weekend with Bottas’, he was absolutely magical throughout the weekend.
“If you are comparing team-mates, Hamilton was looking like Lewis Hamilton, and Bottas was struggling to make Q3 in the same car.
“So you have to say that it was a brilliant weekend of driving from Lewis until he made the mistake at the end.”