Valtteri Bottas put in a strong performance in qualifying for the Spanish GP, with Championship leader Lewis Hamilton only outpacing him by 0.059s.
But the race was a different story. Bottas finished the Spanish Grand Prix almost 45 seconds behind Hamilton and around 20 seconds behind Red Bull ace Max Verstappen.
Mercedes have been quick to defend Bottas, with technical director James Allison disagreeing with F1 pundit David Coulthard’s suggestion that his performance was “lacklustre”.
“I don’t think it’s fair to characterise it as lacklustre,” Allison said.
He emphasised that the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is a “tricky track to overtake at”, and said their pace advantage over the Red Bull wasn’t enough for an on-track overtake.
“And Valtteri had a poor start, but was able to run back up into the fight at the front but not enough to overtake,” he added.
“I don’t think it was a poor performance, he just didn’t get away as well as Lewis did at the start, but the pace was basically there and had it been a free-air race he certainly would have been ahead of Max.”
After the race, Bottas said in a tweet that P3 was far from their goal for the Spanish GP.
“3rd today far from what the goal was. Will analyse and learn everything that could have been done better this weekend & find the fighting spirit back before the next one,” he wrote.
The Finn currently sits third in the F1 driver standings on 89 points. Hamilton, meanwhile, comfortably tops the table on 132 points and is in a very strong position to win his seventh F1 Championship.
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