Valterri Bottas reflects on how the first half of his F1 2021 campaign has gone, as well as, looking ahead to the rest of the season and what it could hold for him and the team.
The 2021 was meant to be the year that Bottas finally made that step up into title contention, but then again, so was 2019 and 2020. There’s a trend here. Whilst he is undoubtedly one of the most talented drivers on the grid, you don’t get yourself into the best car by accident, it just so happened his teammate would be a world champion.
This has unfortunately diminished his title chances and with him being in his fifth season with Mercedes and with a fast and feisty George Russell waiting in the wings, there is a feeling within the F1 world that 2021 was his last chance. It’s fair to say that 2021 has been far from ideal so far for the Finn, not a win to his name, three DNFs, only a handful of podiums, his title chances were gone before they even started and only fourth in the championship.
It’s easy to say that it’s been poor from Bottas but his seat is one of the most pressured on the grid and he is hampered by more than his fair share of bad luck. When asked about his first half, he agreed with the consensus that “it hasn’t gone in my way”, but prior to Hungary he was gathering some good momentum and pumping in solid results, “at least in the last few races it feels like it’s been slightly positive trend you know getting some podiums and then more points.”
It’s thrown him back into contention for P3 in the championship which will help significantly with Mercedes’ fight for the constructor’s title as they aim to be eight times double world champions. Having said that, Bottas also his retirements. “I think now I have three DNFs, which is quite a lot that’s a big chunk of points so it’s not been great,” he said. However, the season is still young and he knows this.
“There’s still more than half to go in terms of number of races and we keep going but at least as a team we got more points today than RedBull,” he said. Despite the Finn’s horror first corner in Hungary which saw him take out both Red Bull’s and a McLaren in the process, he is drawing on the positives from the weekend as F1 heads into its summer shut down which no doubt Bottas will use to recharge and re-energise.
There are definitely positives to draw from the weekend, not necessarily for him personally but for the team, absolutely. They outscored Red Bull, took the lead of both championships and on a track that was meant to favour Red Bull they had a clear pace advantage all weekend. “It’s good to see we’ve been performing well yes performance has been good on this track which requires a lot of downforce so it’s good to see,” said Bottas.
After a clean sweep from Red Bull during the triple header, there is a sense of relief in the Mercedes camp that they’ve managed to wrestle some momentum back. “Silverstone and Hungaroring has been more positive than for example Austria in terms of performance so that gives us yeah good motivation for the second half of the year.”
It’s been up and down so far for Mercedes in the first half in terms of performance, but the last few races can give them confidence heading into what will be a long and competitive second half. The aim for the team is obvious but for Bottas securing best of the rest after Verstappen and Hamilton should be and is his priority for 2021.
“At least in the points, as a team we’re pretty much equal with Red Bull so still all to play for and for me as well, I’ll keep pushing trying to get to the top 3 of the drivers as soon as possible,” said Bottas. Mercedes should be optimistic going to Belgium at the end of August and beyond and so should the Finn.
How Red Bull progress for the rest of 2021 remains to be seen but they will be very strong and will only get stronger. Bottas should be finishing third and it’s well within his grasp to do so, if he can rediscover his form from before Hungary, stay out trouble and remain consistent then P3 is his to lose. He will be very keen to show what he is made of for the rest of the season with his seat in 2022 still up for grabs.
The story was written by Ollie Pattas
Here’s Valtteri Bottas on agreeing with Toto Wolff regarding future decision
Here’s Adrian Newey on off-track battle with Mercedes
Here’s drone view of Mercedes F1 base at Brackley