One more race in which luck did not play in favor of Valtteri Bottas. The Finnish driver was making a fantastic comeback after falling to eleventh position on the first lap of the Qatar Grand Prix, so much so that Mercedes estimated Bottas was in contention for second place against Verstappen, and if not, minimum in the fight for third place against the Red Bull of Mexican Sergio Pérez. However, a puncture in the left front tire took his chances of even scoring points to the grave. Despite having made its tire change after the puncture, Mercedes decided to retire car number 77 due to many damages, most of which were received on the floor of the car. The strategy was decisive for the careers of many drivers. Pirelli, for their part, had suggested viable strategies of a total of 3 stops, as the degradation of the tires during Saturday and Sunday was excessive, however, the teams took the risky decision to run to one stop. Valtteri Bottas had an excellent pace and there was even a part of the race where he was the fastest car on the track. Mercedes wanted to go to a single stop with the Finn, but being the only car left to make its pit stop, the front left tire could not take any more and it was punctured. Lando Norris also suffered a puncture from wear and tear, as did both Williams. Mercedes wasn't the only team that made the wrong call, and if strategy had worked, this article would be a different story as Bottas did have the pace to fight for a podium spot. Fernando Alonso also went to a single stop, and although he was helped by the Virtual Safety Car, the Asturian did manage to reach the end with those hard tires and get a podium. These were the words of Valtteri Bottas.
“I don’t really know what happened. I mean, there was no warning [about the puncture], no vibration, pace was still consistent, car was feeling ok but it just happened.” Bottas affirmed. “Initially I thought that the wind was getting stronger in the main straight but then the puncture happened in the first corner.”
“I think it was in the unluckiest point. The car was too broken, too damaged so the team didn’t want to break it more and we saw no chance to get to the points so we decided to retire the car.”
When asked about his start and why he lost so many positions at the start of the race, he commented: “No grip. Already in the formation lap, I couldn’t find enough tyre temperature, in addition of starting in the dirty side of the track with mediums, so the first few corners were just not ok for the tyres.”
If we recall, during qualifying session, the right front tire of Pierre Gasly's AlphaTauri was punctured, hinting that it would be a tough race for the tires and tire management, when Valtteri was asked if what happened to his car resembled that of the French, he replied: “No, I think what happened to Gasly was different. It was related to the front wing. We knew it is high-stressful for the tyres but normally you get the vibration before [the puncture].”
As we can hear, Valtteri Bottas did not have any luck, once again, and failed to even finish the race in such a crucial point in the Constructors’ championship. Mercedes and Red Bull are fighting until the end of the season for that championship and with Sergio Perez finishing in P4 and Max Verstappen in P2, the Austrian team is now 5 points behind them with just two races left in the season.