Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas’ start got largely overshadowed by the huge Lap 1 incident in the 2018 Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix.
The Finn rammed into the back of Williams’ Sergey Sirotkin just when Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg caused a chain reaction which caught out McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, Sauber’s Charles Leclerc, Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.
Bottas was forced to start from the back of the grid due to an engine penalty and so he had to avoid the first lap carnage for starters. He did so well as he was on the inside of the Hulkenberg’s clash but then himself ran into the back of another driver.
Fortunately for him, the damage was not so significant and he could continue but it still required a pit stop which may have cost him the chance of a certain podium which Red Bull’s Max Verstappen took in the end.
The Mercedes driver simply did not anticipate the braking and duly admitted to the mistake for which he was handed a five-second penalty by the stewards which did not affect his race result of fourth place.
“I got a good start,” he said. “I was on the inside and just got surprised by how early everyone braked on the inside and I hit the car [Sirotkin] infront, so that’s why I had the damage and need a pit stop.
“After that everything was good and I enjoyed the overtaking. I had fun with every single overtake. It was maximum attack, it always is. It was a lot of fun – especially overtaking in Eau Rouge on the outside.
“Normally you overtake on the other side. I got a good momentum out of turn one so I tried it. You keep flat. You keep the throttle. You floor it. That’s how you do it. I think we made most out [of the situation]. The main thing is we got more points than Ferrari.”
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff revealed that the incident didn’t cost Bottas much since they pitted under the safety car. Meanwhile, there was no damage for the Russian too who managed to battle with Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson in the opening sequence.
They went back and forth in a positive race for Williams in the fight for points but he lost out eventually to finish 12th with Lance Stroll in 13th. The team thought they had the pace to fight Renault in the race.