Valtteri Bottas was losing around three quarters of a second per lap as a result of debris he picked up early in Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
The pole-sitter retained the lead at the start while Max Verstappen slotted into second place ahead of Lewis Hamilton, and looked well-placed to convert his lead into victory due to the difficulty of overtaking at Imola. However, on just the second lap, he collected a big piece of Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari that was left on the track at Tosa, and the debris would remain there until his final pit stop, costing him an estimated 0.75s per lap.
“It was on the racing line, I didn’t have enough time to react,” Bottas said. “I saw a big piece of carbon, so I decided the only chance… what I had to do, what I had time to do, was aim (for) at least how to hit it. I decided to go straight over it instead of hitting one of the tires and possibly getting a puncture but, unluckily, it got stuck on the floor – under the floor – and apparently it was like 50 points of downforce which, in lap time, is quite a big chunk.
“How it affected me, I would say mainly in high-speed corners. I could feel that the car was sliding a bit and in some braking zones it was a bit unpredictable, so sometimes I would lock the wheels and sometimes it would stop pretty quickly. It was not really consistent, the downforce I had in the car.
“It made it really tricky, and I could see I just didn’t quite have the pace and Max was putting a lot of pressure, and in the end he got through because I had to push over my limits to try and maintain the position. I had a lock-up and that was it. Not my day. I didn’t have a chance with that debris in the car to fight for the win, unfortunately. But at least we could secure a 1-2, which is a perfect way to secure the seventh title for the team in a row.”
Bottas admits he was slightly frustrated that there wasn’t more warning about the debris on track, with only a radio message from the team alerting him of anything to look out for.
“I got a warning from my engineers that they could see some gravel, maybe, on lap two in Turn 7 because they could see some kind of warning somewhere but there was no yellow flag,” he said. “But it was a big piece of debris and I didn’t have enough time to react, to go around it so I would have time to decide how I’m going to hit the debris and I decided to go, like, straight over instead of with the tires.
“It would be good to get more of an understanding why there was not any sign of big piece of carbon, because obviously it’s dangerous if there’s flying things around ,but it sure didn’t help my race.”