Q&A VALTTERI BOTTAS
Valtteri Bottas finished third at Monza after qualifying fourth, 0.362 seconds off team-mate Lewis Hamilton. He took third place after Max Verstappen was given a 5s penalty for his illegal defending against Bottas.
Any explanation of where the differences were to Lewis Hamilton this weekend?
In the wet it was all fine. In practice two, I just didn’t get enough clean laps – I had a few mistakes here and there. Practice three definitely was lacking pace. We made set-up changes from FP2 to FP3, to try to improve off the corners and the balance, but that set-up made braking much more difficult. We had to change the set-up again for qualifying, to go back to what I had on Friday. It was getting better and better through qualifying, and in the end in the corners – all the corners – I saw no difference between me and Lewis [implying the time loss was due to Hamilton getting a tow].
You played your role in Lewis’s victory, and you seem to be playing your role well…
Before the race we went through all the scenarios strategy-wise, and honestly there’s a minimal difference in terms of where you stop because the tyres can last so long. So, it wasn’t really like I was sacrificing my race, as long as I was keeping Kimi [Raikkonen] behind – if he overtook me then for sure I would lose time. I was happy to do it, because I knew I’d still get a chance to attack Verstappen, so I don’t think we compromised my result.
Were you surprised Verstappen moved under braking?
I was trying to race him hard. I was trying initially to go on the inside, which was maybe a bit far [back], but he locked up, went straight, kept his position. I know he is one of the more aggressive in terms of defending and attacking, but I still wanted to race hard and expected him to race fair. He covered the inside, I braked on the outside, we were pretty much side by side and he just started to drift to the left. The rule is very simple – when you defend on the inside it doesn’t cost you anything if you leave a car’s width, and it’s for the guy on the outside.