Valtteri Bottas, commenting on the events of the Italian Grand Prix, lamented that from the very start some oddities appeared in the behavior of his car, which the Mercedes team cannot yet explain.
Question: It is clear that the race was not easy for you. Can you explain what happened at the start? Are you worried that it is not the first time this season that there are any difficulties at the start?
Valtteri Bottas: The problem was related to my reaction at the moment when the traffic lights went out. In the course of working out the launch procedure, we carried out some experiments and made small changes to it. It seems to me that this sometimes has a negative effect at the moment of the start.
I cannot go into details, but again I almost made a false start, reacting to some signal. Fortunately, it was not as obvious as a few races ago. Therefore, a little later than necessary, I reacted to the traffic light.
We should better work out the starting procedure. The moment I release the clutch, everything works fine, and here we have made good progress, but now we need to achieve a more stable reaction at the moment when the starting lights go out.
Question: Can you explain what happened to the car on the first lap when you told the team on the radio that one of the wheels was punctured?
Valtteri Bottas: At a meeting with engineers after the race, we could not identify the cause, we will try to do it later. But I can say that on the first lap I had two contacts with the cars of my rivals: first in the 2nd turn, then a slightly more sensitive contact occurred in the 5th turn. However, he was also not very serious.
But in turn 6, I found myself at the outer side of the track due to the fact that there was a clear understeer, and then in the 7th it changed to strong oversteer – it felt like a punctured tire. At the exit from this turn, the car pulled to the right, and I felt that it was not in order. Before the 8th turn, I was already sure that this was due to a puncture. To prevent the car from flying off the track, I had to slow down earlier.
But then everything returned to normal, so I’m not sure if I ran into something, or if there were some problems with the car due to contacts with other cars. But the driving experience was really strange and the first lap was very unfortunate.
Q: Usually during the weekend in Monza you were the fastest in the second sector, but in the race you lost quite a lot in both corners Lesmo: what can you say about the feeling of driving? Was there something wrong with the car?
Valtteri Bottas: During the entire distance of the race, the sensations were so-so. I did not manage to pass Lesmo and Parabolica at the same pace as my opponents. Understeer interfered, while the car also slipped. Why this happened, I do not know, but in these turns I lagged behind the others.
In Monza, most of the turns are right, and if the car turns poorly to the right, this is not an ideal situation. All this was rather strange, because we knew that we had a good car, and I hoped that I would have the opportunity to fight with rivals, especially after the restart.
But I could not make my way forward, because I could not get closer to the cars in front of them closer than 0.7 seconds.
Question: To what extent could this be affected by the ban on the use of engine power qualification modes? Moreover, in general, overtaking was not so much …
Valtteri Bottas: It may well be that this also influenced the number of overtaking, but only to some extent. Indeed, even in Monza, the effect of the use of DRS was rather insignificant, since the machines are equipped with less effective wings, and in any case, the drag is less here.
But for me the main problem was that I could not get close to the cars in front of the attack distance, that I did not have enough speed in the turns of Lesmo, Ascari and Parabolica.
Q: Although 5th place is clearly not the result you expected, you still managed to win back a few points from Lewis Hamilton. Was this at least some kind of consolation after a tough race? Or do you think it was a day of wasted opportunity?
Valtteri Bottas: Definitely, it was a day of wasted opportunity for our entire team. We started from the first row, and given the speed of our car, we should have won the winning double. But the Grand Prix was a crazy scenario. For example, I was unlucky that some of the riders had pit stops before the safety car appeared or before the race was interrupted by red flags.
However, someone was even more unlucky than me. So it could have ended much worse. If before the Italian weekend I was in the lead in the championship, it would be easier for me, because then I would increase the lead over the main rivals. But since I’m in the role of a catch-up, it is clear that I need to earn more points to keep hope for the title.