Bottas: "Very easy" to criticise Sakhir F1 performance against Russell

Valtteri Bottas admitted it could be "very easy" to criticise his performance against Mercedes Formula 1 debutant George Russell after struggling to keep up during the Sakhir Grand Prix

Bottas: "Very easy" to criticise Sakhir F1 performance against Russell

Williams regular Russell was drafted in by Mercedes for last weekend's race after seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton tested positive for COVID-19.

Russell qualified second behind Mercedes team-mate Bottas, but seized the lead off the line and opened up an eight-second lead shortly after the first round of pit stops.

But a mistake in the pits by Mercedes followed by a late puncture dropped Russell to ninth, finishing one place behind Bottas, who struggled on old tyres in the closing stages.

Russell won widespread praise for his display, only fuelling suggestions he could one day replace Bottas at Mercedes and become Hamilton's team-mate.

Bottas insisted after the race that he stood a chance of catching Russell during the hard tyre stint, having gone three laps longer than his team-mate before pitting to get a small tyre delta.

PLUS: The unseen mistake that nearly cost Perez victory in Russell's race

The Finn had cut the gap from eight seconds down to five, and felt he was on course to set up a close fight in the final stages of the race.

"I knew that in the first stint with the medium tyre, the track position would be important, so obviously was unfortunate to lose that," Bottas said.

"But in the second stint, I was catching him at a pretty decent rate, so I knew everything is going to be open and most likely we'll have a good battle.

"I still knew that everything was going to be to play for, especially towards the end of the stint on the hard tyres."

Bottas said during the race he was not thinking about the possibility of being beaten by Russell on his Mercedes debut, but acknowledged the result did not look good without considering the possible end result.

"In the race, I just tried to make the most out of it, and I knew that it's going to be a long race ahead, so I don't think about those kind of things," Bottas said.

"But now thinking about it, for sure, if you don't know things, then I'd have looked like a complete c**t and a fool. So that's not nice.

"It was a pretty bad race for me from that side, and it will be very easy for people to say a new guy comes in and beats the guy who's been in the team for a few years. So it is not ideal.

"But the people who know, they know how is the performance, and they know how the end result could have been.

"I don't know what to say really. Not ideal, obviously, this weekend."

Bottas's hopes of victory were dashed at the second pit stop when Mercedes tried to double-stack its cars, only for a radio failure to result in his tyres being fitted to Russell's car.

It meant Mercedes had to re-fit Bottas's worn hard tyres to his car after a long wait, causing them to lose temperature and leaving him unable to defend from the drivers behind on the restart.

Bottas was passed by Russell at Turn 5 before losing further positions to Carlos Sainz Jr., Daniel Ricciardo, Alexander Albon and Daniil Kvyat, shuffling him back to eighth in the final classification.

"That was a nightmare, being on the old, hard tyres, that had already lost a bit of temperature in the pit stop," Bottas said.

"Against guys with fresh mediums around, I was like a sitting duck. It was a pretty nightmare situation."

shares
comments
Mercedes explains radio system glitch that caused pitstop chaos in Sakhir GP

Previous article

Mercedes explains radio system glitch that caused pitstop chaos in Sakhir GP

Next article

Perez: My fate shows that F1 doesn't have the best drivers

Perez: My fate shows that F1 doesn't have the best drivers
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Drivers Valtteri Bottas , George Russell
Author Luke Smith
The 'new' F1 drivers who need to improve at Imola Plus

The 'new' F1 drivers who need to improve at Imola

After a pandemic-hit winter of seat-swapping, F1 kicked off its season with several new faces in town, other drivers adapting to new environments, and one making a much-anticipated comeback. BEN ANDERSON looks at who made the most of their opportunity and who needs to try harder…

The delay that quashed Aston Martin’s last F1 venture Plus

The delay that quashed Aston Martin’s last F1 venture

Aston Martin’s only previous foray into Formula 1 in the late 1950s was a short-lived and unsuccessful affair. But it could have been so different, says NIGEL ROEBUCK

Formula 1
Apr 10, 2021
Verstappen exclusive: Why lack of car-racing titles won't hurt Red Bull's ace Plus

Verstappen exclusive: Why lack of car-racing titles won't hurt Red Bull's ace

Max Verstappen’s star quality in Formula 1 is clear. Now equipped with a Red Bull car that is, right now, the world title favourite and the experience to support his talent, could 2021 be the Dutchman’s year to topple the dominant force of Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes?

Formula 1
Apr 9, 2021
Are we at peak F1 right now? Plus

Are we at peak F1 right now?

For many, many years Formula 1 has strived to do and to be better on all fronts. With close competition, a growing fanbase, a stable political landscape and rules in place to encourage sustainability, 2021 is on course to provide an unexpected peak

Formula 1
Apr 8, 2021
How crucial marginal calls will decide the Red Bull vs Mercedes battle in F1 2021 Plus

How crucial marginal calls will decide the Red Bull vs Mercedes battle in F1 2021

The longer Red Bull can maintain a performance edge over Mercedes, the better the odds will be in the team’s favour against the defending world champions. But as the Bahrain Grand Prix showed, many more factors will be critical in the outcome of the 2021 Formula 1 World Championship

Formula 1
Apr 7, 2021
How Williams’ new structure adheres to a growing F1 trend Plus

How Williams’ new structure adheres to a growing F1 trend

Williams held out against the tide for many years but, as MARK GALLAGHER explains, the age of the owner-manager is long gone

Formula 1
Apr 6, 2021
When a journeyman driver's F1 career lasted just 800m Plus

When a journeyman driver's F1 career lasted just 800m

Nikita Mazepin’s Formula 1 debut at the Bahrain Grand Prix lasted mere corners before he wiped himself out in a shunt, but his financial backing affords him a full season. Back in 1993 though, Marco Apicella was an F1 driver for just 800m before a first corner fracas ended his career. Here’s the story of his very short time at motorsport’s pinnacle

Formula 1
Apr 4, 2021
The nightmare timing that now hinders Mercedes Plus

The nightmare timing that now hinders Mercedes

Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton took victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix despite, for a change, not having the quickest car. But any hopes of developing its W12 to surpass Red Bull's RB16B in terms of outright speed could not have come at a worse time.

Formula 1
Apr 2, 2021