Valtteri Bottas was left to rue his luck after a late tire failure turned a battling second place into a scoreless British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
Lewis Hamilton led from pole position but Bottas kept his teammate honest, never dropping more than two seconds behind the lead Mercedes. With four laps to go, the gap had grown and then Bottas went wide at Turn 3 with a left-front puncture, allowing Max Verstappen through into second. Bottas had to slowly return to the pits and dropped to 12th place with two laps to go, rising to 11th but just failing to pass Sebastian Vettel at the final corner and missing out on points.
“Of course really disappointing, and very unlucky,” Bottas said. “Also where I got the puncture, I had to go ’round the whole lap.
“We knew it would be a long stint with the hard tire, so of course I was trying to put pressure on Lewis. Towards the end, I was starting to get more and more vibration. I reported that and then in the end, I had in my mind, ‘Who knows, there could be an issue,’ so I started to manage it a bit. But it happened so suddenly, I couldn’t predict it happening.”
Hamilton suffered his own puncture on the final lap and Bottas believes the difference in timing could be due to him following his teammate so closely, as both cars had pit under the safety car on Lap 12 and were running 40 laps on the hard tire.
“Maybe it was just a small thing that triggered it at the end when it’s on the limit but it’s difficult to really say. Overall our pace was not dissimilar but, of course, being the car behind the other one means that in the corners you lose downforce, you slide a bit more, so I think that can definitively give an effect of a couple of laps in tire life.
“Otherwise, I was trying to manage the tires but at the same time, trying to put a bit of pressure on Lewis, because otherwise there would have been no chance for me to win the race. I was trying to choose the right places and the right time but, still, that happened. Towards the end of the stint there was quite a bit of vibration — it was getting worse, but it was not extreme. Next thing, the puncture happened.”