Valtteri Bottas says Charles Leclerc’s move at the start of the Hungarian Grand Prix was “completely unnecessary” as he picked up front wing damage.
The Finn had lost out to teammate Lewis Hamilton at Turn 3 in a move that allowed Leclerc a run on him up toward Turn 4, and the Ferrari’s left-rear wheel then hit the front wing of the Mercedes, damaging it. Bottas was forced to pit after just five laps to replace his wing and from there had to fight back on a two-stop strategy, eventually recovering to eighth place, but he was unhappy at both his teammate and Leclerc for the opening lap.
“Going into Turn 1, I was on the outside of (Max) Verstappen, so I obviously tried to brake late, but he braked late as well,” Bottas said. “I had a bit of a lock-up and that cost me a bit of a flat spot. Going into Turn 2, there was some understeer with that, but it was all OK, Lewis was on the outside but there was still room for the two of us.
“Maybe I left a bit too much, because he could then carry a lot of speed into Turn 3 — we were side by side and for sure he didn’t leave any room for me and that compromised my exit out of Turn 3. Then, on the way to Turn 4, Charles had a clear run on the inside but suddenly swept across and took my front wing, so that was it.
“It compromised my race, as I was losing big chunks of time in the beginning. Then I stopped early, was going through traffic all through the race, so that was basically the story.”
Bottas admits he was unaware of how far Leclerc had moved across on him when inside the car, but once he had seen replays of the incident was angered at the Ferrari’s change of direction.
“At the time, when it happened, I thought I must have been focusing on something else and maybe I didn’t see him, because it happened pretty quick. But then I saw the onboards, and when I saw it from (Sebastian) Vettel’s onboard, it was pretty clear that I was just going straight ahead, he was on the right and he would have been, anyway, ahead of me before Turn 4, but suddenly he just swept across and for me it was too late to react.
“I mean, I love hard racing, that’s for sure, but that was just completely unnecessary. It compromised my race, he was lucky not to get a puncture, so that’s not how it should be.”