Valtteri Bottas has admitted that scoring his first Formula 1 points in the United States Grand Prix came as a “big relief.”
The Williams driver made the most of the improved form enjoyed by Williams since ditching its Coanda-effect exhaust to finish eighth at Circuit of The Americas.
After a frustrating campaign where he has not had the machinery to shine regularly, Bottas said that producing such a starring drive at Austin was a massive boost.
“There is a very big relief,” said the Finn. “It is better to get the points late than never, so I am very happy.
“I think the whole weekend we did the right direction with the car setup and the changes we made in Abu Dhabi helped us a bit more here. And when it came to Sunday, we still performed really well. We had a good strategy with pit stops and a good start, so I am very happy for us as a team. I think it is very important to at least get some points.”
Williams first tried out its non-Coanda exhausts during the Abu Dhabi GP as an experiment for 2014, but it actually helped improve this year’s car, too. Bottas admitted that it was a slightly bizarre discovery for his team, as the older version exhausts should be slower.
“It is weird,” he said. “We really thought we were gaining something from the previous exhaust and we were trying to develop it to make it better. In the end, that is the direction that every other team has taken, but it was a good decision to try it in Abu Dhabi.
“It has made the car more consistent and more predictable. Before, we were sometimes in the middle of the corner and we were getting snaps on the rear end that didn’t happen every lap. Now also the straight-line speed is a bit better, the pure traction is the only downside a bit. But what we gain in the straight-line overcomes that loss.”
Bottas said there was little point in wondering what would have happened to the campaign if the team had elected to ditch the Coanda exhausts earlier.
“It is easy to say after that we should have tried it before,” he said. “But it is better to understand everything later than not at all.”