Valtteri Bottas admits he can see the championship drifting away from him again after Lewis Hamilton further extended his points lead at the Spanish Grand Prix.
Hamilton took pole position and put in a dominant performance to win his fourth race out of six this season, with Max Verstappen finishing a distant second. Bottas was third after dropping to fourth off the line and is now 43 points behind his teammate, something he admitted is tough to deal with mentally.
“Initial analysis is it was just a bad start,” Bottas said. “I think the initial getaway off the line was not quite good enough and also my reaction time could have been a bit better, so just not the perfect start when it was needed. On this track if the guys behind get a tow from you and you don’t get a tow and if your start is not better then you pay the price, that’s it.
“I’m very disappointed of course, it’s far from ideal. I have no clue what the points difference is, but it’s way too big and I can see again the championship drifting away. So it will take a couple of days to look at everything and see what went wrong.
“Obviously at this point it’s pretty disappointing, but I will always bounce back and no doubt in Spa as always I’ll be in full mental health, giving everything I have. But for now I just want to be somewhere else than here.”
Although Hamilton had a commanding lead, Bottas was also unable to get close to Verstappen, but said it was not unexpected that the Red Bull could keep him at bay.
“Not really surprised not to be able to get close, because obviously the pace difference isn’t that massive,” he said. “Here, I think you need maybe a 1.5-second pace difference to overtake, or something like this. So without a big tire delta it’s nothing new, so it was pretty much expected. Every year with more and more downforce it gets more and more difficult to follow, that’s how it is. That’s why if you lose position at the start it costs quite a lot.
“At the end I think there was quite a bit of debate what to do really, but I knew if I went for the mediums there would be no chance unless he made a mistake or something, because there was just not enough tire delta.
“So I think the team decided to do something different, which I think was a good idea, but in the end the soft was not really good enough. You can’t really push that tire, it just overheats, but I think the main opportunity I had personally was just before Max stopped. There was a couple of points I was pretty close, but we didn’t take them.”