Valtteri Bottas speaks up on his F1 Italian GP fight-through to third, but thought it would have been tricky to pass the McLaren cars in the end.
It was a strange week for Bottas. Being announced as an Alfa Romeo driver, some might say it’s a bit of a kick in the teeth the way it happened, but it wasn’t entirely unexpected. Still, the Finn seemed happy with his multi-year contract and appears to be confident the team are going in the right direction with their ambitions and targets.
For the weekend that was in it in F1 Italian GP, the second sprint race, Bottas took the victory and the three points, but power unit changes put him to the back of the grid for the Grand Prix itself. It was then a storming drive from there followed making up 15 places (16 following the Sergio Perez penalty) and a possible candidate for driver of the day.
From 18th on the grid to third, all those positions, it was indeed a solid drive – granted some of the mishaps helped him too – but for him, to come through the field on a track like Monza, was in itself a big win. It showed his abilities to the full.
“I think it was probably the most positions gained, maybe in my career,” said Bottas, when asked to reflect on his drive and if it was the best ever. “I don’t know, I’m not the best with statistics. And honestly, although some people might think it’s easy to overtake here in Monza but actually it isn’t.
“When there’s a few cars in a row it’s not that easy, so I’m happy at the progress we could make and, of course, we did have a good car, good pace and good strategy, starting with the hard tyre in my case was definitely the right choice and could go along and take the opportunities and then, once we went to the medium it was time to attack and push.
“Just at the very end, the medium started to push a bit but by then things started to stabilise but overall I did everything I could today and this weekend overall. So, for that, I’m happy,” summed up Bottas, who needed these points, especially to keep a certain Lando Norris and also Perez behind in the drivers’ standings.
Tactically, it was a great performance and a drive which was planned, calculated and executed. After the safety car period, it came alive, as he was in the front end of the Top 10, but he then got stuck behind Perez. But the Finn thought the McLaren drivers had enough pace to keep their 1-2 finish, as his tyres were on the finishing end too.
“When I was progressing quite quickly, in the beginning of the medium and then I could see both of the McLarens were actually pretty close and I was catching,” said Bottas. “Then once I was behind Perez and really in the train, of course I was trying everything I could – but of course the last few laps, the tyre started to drop and that was it.
“But I think it would have been tricky to get past the McLarens. Honestly, they’ve been strong all weekend and they have their strengths, especially on the straight line and, like yesterday, Lewis, he was trying everything he could but couldn’t get by so I honestly think it was the maximum today we could reach,” summed up Bottas.
It was the maximum perhaps, but if he could have got past Perez and maybe hunted down the McLarens it could have been an interesting finish. But as he put it, the papaya cars were strong all weekend and got their reward. Seriously though, it was probably Bottas’ best drive of 2021. If he can produce performances like that in 2022, coupled with the confidence he has in Alfa Romeo’s ambitions, next season could be very interesting.
The story was written by Neil Farell
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