Valtteri Bottas reflects on the F1 Russian GP where the rain saved his grand prix after struggles with understeer hampered his progress.
For Mercedes’ Bottas, the F1 Russian GP was quite the roller coaster ride. He took fifth place this time from another back of the grid start owing to a power unit change. However, his drive at Sochi was not as inspiring as it was at Monza.
At Monza, he was like a knife through the field but progress was more sluggish at Sochi. Whereas Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc cut through the field from early on, Bottas did not and pitting for inters was important, he was one of the early ones to make the difference.
It propelled him from 14th to fifth, as Mercedes registered the much needed points for the F1 constructors’ championship. “Indeed, that was the key, when to stop and to be honest, I wanted to stop one lap earlier but I think the team was not ready, so I had to go one more lap,” said Bottas, when asked his pit stop at that point was crucial.
“I think with that we could have been on the podium. But still we were one of the early ones to stop, which was the right call. The end situation was the thing that saved me because the progress in the field was really difficult. I really struggled, so it was not easy day,” summed up Bottas.
As it was, he garnered a fifth place and maybe it might have been better and as per above his progress was not like it was at Monza. Bottas put it down to having too much understeer, something which has troubled him and Lewis Hamilton in all of 2021.
“I thought it was going to be better like in terms of progressing but for me just following other cars, in certain corners caused me understeer and that’s why I couldn’t follow and it put me on the backfoot,” said Bottas. “I didn’t really see Max coming, so I don’t know, I need to have a look, but he was progressing much better than us.”
Sochi is a different layout to Monza, in fairness and that might have been a reason for it too. Bottas has a good record there, taking his first race win there in 2017. It was a good drive though and a bit more luck might have seen him on the podium once more.
The story was written by Neil Farrell
Here’s Max Verstappen on his race and passing Valtteri Bottas
Here’s Lewis Hamilton, Toto Wolff on their race