Valtteri Bottas is confident he can regain the lead in the drivers’ championship at next weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix based on the performances he has delivered so far this season.
Victory in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix also came with the extra point for setting the fastest lap, and was followed by second place in Bahrain. That left Bottas with a one-point lead over teammate Lewis Hamilton heading to China, where the Finn started from pole but dropped to second off the line and had to settle for the runner-up spot as Mercedes secured a third consecutive one-two.
“I’m just disappointed I didn’t win because obviously when you start from pole there’s only one goal for the race,” Bottas said. “By pure pace I think Lewis was strong in the first stint, but I know in the second and third stint, being in the front I could have done the job. I know myself, but it was all about the start, so that’s why it was disappointing.
“It’s a sport that is all about details and about learning those and seeing if anything can be better in the future. Sometimes there’s things that you can’t affect, maybe (China) was one of them, but we need to make sure if there’s anything we can learn.
“That’s life, that’s how it goes sometimes, but it’s early in the season and I’m only a few points behind in the championship. For sure I would prefer to still be leading but that’s the situation now and if I keep performing well I can turn it around, so that’s going to be the goal for Baku.”
A notable moment in China came when Mercedes pitted both cars on the same lap in order to protect itself against a threat from Sebastian Vettel who had stopped for a second time, but Bottas admitted he wanted to take a risk with his own strategy to give himself a chance of overhauling Hamilton.
“On the lap we were pitting, I was definitely questioning the team if we should do it, if I could stop later, if I could carry on with one stop, but it was too big a risk in terms of tire life if we could make it or not,” he said.
“Why was I questioning it? Because I knew if I did something different other than stop behind Lewis at the same time, that was going to be the only chance for me to win the race. I knew that if we were coming in then it’s going to be pretty much it if nothing crazy happened.
“I’m glad the stop went well, I lost some time but minimal, so the team did a good job with that. From the team’s point of view I think it was definitely the right thing to do to make sure we were going to be one-two, but of course for me I wanted to take the risk. But looking at it I don’t think the tire wear would have been enough for it (to work).”