Valtteri Bottas says a vibration from his clutch caused his poor start in the Spanish Grand Prix that proved crucial in finishing second to Lewis Hamilton.
Qualifying saw Bottas take pole position by over 0.6s, but he was unable to convert that into victory as Hamilton took the lead into Turn 1 and led home the fifth consecutive one-two for Mercedes. Bottas was squeezed between his teammate on the inside and Sebastian Vettel on the outside, but says the poor start is not one he counts as his error.
“I mean, it really is impressive what we’re doing as a team,” Bottas said. “So, for that hats off to everyone at the factory and here.
“It’s honestly very annoying today. I lost it at the start and, looking in the mirror I can say it’s not my fault. I had some issues with the clutch, some vibrations, which I’ve never had before. That’s why I got away slow. I’m keen to find out what happened.”
Hamilton opened up a significant advantage of 12 seconds at one stage in the race before a safety car bunched up the field, but Bottas believes the two Mercedes drivers were closely matched on pace.
“It’s quite a lot easier in the front — you can control the pace and when you’re behind you’re trying to keep up, and dirty air at this kind of track you’re sliding around. So, I was expecting the race to be kind of decided into the first corner. Even though you try for the opportunities, it was game over.”
With Hamilton picking up the extra point for setting the fastest lap, the defending champion retakes the lead in the drivers’ standings by seven points from Bottas.