Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas reckons his last-to-podium charge in F1 Abu Dhabi GP was hampered due to the DRS snag period.
Bottas may have finished F1 Abu Dhabi GP a depressing-looking fourth, while his teammate Lewis Hamilton won from pole at Yas Marina circuit. However, this was not the full story, as Bottas had a fight-back from last position at the start due to engine change penalty.
The Finnish driver got off the line well, overtaking both Williams drivers into Turn 1 and fought his way through the field in the laps following. He was already in the Top 6 by midway into the grand prix and looked menacing despite being on the one-stop strategy.
It wasn’t an easy job still for the 30 year-old, who was stuck behind Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg for many laps when the grand prix was hit by a technical error with DRS. The FIA clarified that it was a system error and they had to reboot for it to work again.
Post his one stop, Bottas emerged in sixth, but following Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel’s second stop and a subsequent overtake move on Red Bull Racing’s Alexander Albon, Bottas was fourth in the chase of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc for third.
Bottas eventually finished in touching distance, only 0.944s behind Leclerc in fourth. The Mercedes driver was happy to have made it back so much, but added that he would have made it on the podium, had it not been for the DRS issue.
“It was actually pretty and good fun,” said Bottas to media including FormulaRapida.net. “I took two cars in Turn 1 and I think the lap one was pretty successful overtaking a few cars. I enjoyed it. Obviously the first few laps things were happening and there were cars.
“I felt I could really, really take them and then when things stabilised and I was waiting for the DRS to be activated and it never happened until about Lap 18 or 19. That made it a bit more difficult to really make progress.
“But even with that issue, I could still make some overtakes and use all the tools we have like how to use the battery and so on. We did have a strong car, so that helped. Still it is a track that, it is not the easiest place to overtake.
“The DRS loss cost me a lot of time and obviously I could have made the rapid progress with the pace I had [to get to the podium]. But I actually feel pretty pleased about the race and fourth place was the maximum to get in all the circumstances.
“One thing actually was that the guys just mentioned in the debrief that last year I started second finished, fourth or fifth. This year I started last and finished fourth. So that’s progress, I think.” The no-DRS was abig talking point after the race.
Bottas appreciated the extra challenge of no extra straight-line advantage when following his rivals but he added – like most others – that it is still a worthy addition to the cars, until the rules change around and cars can be followed and passed at ease.
“I was trying to do some learning and practice,” said Bottas. “I tried to get the benefit of that. It was more of a benefit I got from the team – the information package of the overtakes made here in history, different corners, and what is the best way and so on.
“It was nice and challenging. I was really eager to get closer to the podium and closer to the front, so it was annoying not to have it. So once you’re in my position, attacking and having the pace, we wanted to have it.
“But obviously the cars that were defending I think they were happy to not have it. So this is a tricky one. I think with a with a current cars we have in F1 it is a good thing, but hopefully in the future in 2021 maybe we can get rid of it.”
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The story was written by Duncan Leahy and edited by Darshan Chokhani