Feature image: eurosport.com
Another Grand Prix weekend see’s another disappointing weekend at the office for the Fin, who struggled for the entirety of the race before taking a lowly P12 at the chequered flag. He had the same troubles throughout the sessions, struggling for time in practice and qualifying which meant he was the slowest car in Q3.
Team-mate Sir Lewis Hamilton wasn’t setting the timing boards alight, but was managing a bit better than Bottas. The Brit opted for a lower-drag rear-wing in FP3 which he found more comfortable, opposite to Bottas who opted fro the higher-drag configuration which could hint to the possibility of Bottas struggling with rear-end stability.
With Hamilton’s low-drag setup combined with a tow from Bottas down the 2.2km main straight, it seemed as if #44 outshone #77 once again as he climbed into P2 for the race. Unfortunately, for the final run of qualifying it seemed that no one wanted to repay Valtteri for the favour…
Talking to Autosport after the race, he stated that “It was actually quite similar feeling to yesterday and also Friday,” with the main issue all weekend being the “lack of pace and just not being quick enough. Today quite early on in the race I could see that I just didn’t match the cars ahead, especially when one of the Aston Martins was ahead of me, I just couldn’t keep up. I’m confused, and it’s really weird.”
Even after a disastrous Monaco Grand Prix which saw the Fin comfortable in P2 until a botched pit-stop forced him out of the race, Bottas admitted that Baku was one of the most difficult race weekends he has ever experienced.
“I can’t remember this kind of weekend,” he explained. “There’s been weekends that I’ve had bad sessions, but always at point I’ve had the pace. But this weekend it’s been all the time there, and during the weekend I haven’t understood what is wrong. We might find something in the car, but if not, then the only thing, it must be the tyres. But we’re running the same tyre pressures and same temperatures. So I’m keen to find out, but at the moment I don’t know.”
After shaking off two street circuits in a row, Bottas and the Mercedes team are hoping for a bounce back at Paul Ricard on a more ‘traditional‘ circuit that Mercedes tends to favour.
“France of course it’s really different, there’s very long corners, high-speed corners,” he added. “I think one big issue we’ve struggled with here is tyre warm-up, especially on the front axle. So that should be a bit easier in the next race at least and then we’ll see. But I think lots to learn from this weekend, but also lots to forget.”