Bottas blasts drain cover damage as “unacceptable”

Valtteri Bottas labelled the drain cover incident which hampered his running on Saturday as “unacceptable” after his car was damaged.

The Williams driver was returning to the pits at the end of his installation lap in FP3 when he ran over a loose drain cover and sustained damage which ruled him out of the session. Bottas said his qualifying was compromised as a result and was left concerned the incident could have been even worse.

“A drain cover came off as I entered the pit lane after just one lap and ripped through the right hand side of my car,” Bottas said. “That was game over for me, so I could only drive again in qualifying. What happened was unacceptable and could have been worse as the marshals standing on the pit wall were very lucky, as part of the drain cover just missed them by a whisker.

“We needed to run longer than usual in qualifying, to check the car and allow me to see how the track had evolved since yesterday, so we did two laps with that set of tyres, building my speed up and got reasonable laps in. Then in Q2 we knew that we should be quite comfortable into Q3 and got OK laps, not perfect.

“I knew I could go quicker by a few tenths but I was just putting things together for Q3. For sure the track was improving as well, so what I’m most disappointed about today is that I know we should have been fighting for the top three places, especially with what happened to Lewis [Hamilton] and with [Sergio] Pérez’s penalty. That’s the most disappointing thing from today.”

Bottas angered Max Verstappen in Q3 when he attempted to overtake at Turn 1 and forced the Red Bull driver wide, with the Finn explaining why he needed to make a move.

“We went out early and the team thought, as I did, Verstappen was on a double out lap, as they’ve been all weekend, so I was just following him. I had kind of confirmation of that myself when out of Turn 16 I saw the rear light flashing on his car, so he was not in the right mode yet, so I was trying to get a nice gap to get the maximum slipstream in the straight and suddenly he started to go.

“Then in the last two corners I found out he was going for a lap but from that place you cannot slow down anymore or you lose all your straight line speed. So I thought the only option for me was to try to overtake, which I could do but for sure that ruined his lap but also mine. I got some dirt on my tyre and I don’t even call that a lap. I just put a lap time on the board and that was good enough for P8.

“Then on the second run there was the red flag for Lewis, so we had to go again. I don’t think the lap would have been mega, because I felt the tyres had lost quite a lot of temperature due to the red flag. There was a lot of traffic, everyone was trying to gain track position to open the lap.

“I knew there wasn’t enough time to back off and leave a gap to Verstappen, so I saw my only opportunity was to fight for track position and try to overtake him going into Turn 1. I couldn’t do it, it ruined my lap and his lap but I was driven into a very difficult situation today. It was not my day at all.”

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