Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Baku City Circuit, 2018

Bottas feels his bad luck became “a joke” in 2018

2018 United States Grand Prix

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Valtteri Bottas says the setbacks he suffered early in 2018 felt like “a joke” and compromised his championship situation.

The Mercedes driver was in a strong position to win the third and fourth rounds of the championship in China and Azerbaijan. However a Safety Car period helped Daniel Ricciardo pass him for victory in Shanghai, and a puncture caused by debris in Baku put him out three laps from the finish while leading.

Bottas also retired while running second in the Austrian Grand Prix and was hit by Sebastian Vettel on the first lap of the French Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton inherited victory from Bottas in Azerbaijan and his points lead in the championship meant Bottas had to play a support role in Russia, handing him another win.

Bottas believes the pair “would be both fighting flat-out for the championship” if there was “not a big points difference” between them.

“I don’t know in deep detail how the points would have been,” he told media in Austin. “I don’t like to calculate those things because in the end after each race that is the situation you’re in and you’re always trying to then make the best out of the future.

“But when you have many setbacks in a row then at some point it kind of becomes a bit of a joke and that’s for me how I felt at some point this year.”

However Bottas admitted he can raise his game further in his third season at Mercedes next year. “My goal is for sure to try and be stronger. One day things will come together.

“I think performance-wise every race this season I’ve been able to perform better than last year and that’s what I try to continue to keep doing with this team all the time, learning. I am very keen to be better next year and hopefully that will bring those results.”

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53 comments on “Bottas feels his bad luck became “a joke” in 2018”

  1. Bottas has definitely shown that the pace is there this season, the thing he still needs to work on is consistently delivering that pace. There is no point in having peaks where he is untouchable but also being anonymous for a few races in a row. That’s not how championships are won.

    1. There is no point in having peaks where he is untouchable but also being anonymous for a few races in a row. That’s not how championships are won.

      ……..isn’t that pretty much what Hamilton’s been doing for years?

      1. Hamilton usually has a bad race then comes back strong the next one (rather than 2 or more). Apart from 2011.

        1. Exactly. 2011 is the only blip in form Hamilton has shown the entirety of his F1 career, & he still won 3 races & racked up podiums. A bad race here or there since then, but always back to dominant form sooner rather than later. The fact that in over a decade of racing he’s never gone 10 races without a win in F1 (& he’s got an even better strike rate for podium finishes… & he’s perennially on pole…) speaks volumes to just how consistently on form Lewis has been.

          1. Hamilton’s 2011’s blip was actually mostly down to crashing with Massa frequently. And was caused by an indifferent Mclaren race strategist who was junior to the other driver’s race strategist. How his team kept finding Massa after almost every pit stop is amazing, sometimes twice in a race.

      2. @mrboerns

        If you were watching F1 for more then 5 minutes perhaps you could answer that yourself

    2. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
      23rd October 2018, 16:14

      Bottas has definitely shown that the pace is there this season, the thing he still needs to work on is consistently delivering that pace. There is no point in having peaks where he is untouchable but also being anonymous for a few races in a row. That’s not how championships are won.

      Spot on.

  2. I think he is right there. How different wouldd this title battle have shaped up had Bottas won those two races early on.

    Now, though, he will be on the lookout for a new seat for 2020 – since Wolff already signalled that Ocon will replace him. Not sure where to go though.

    1. Ahhhh the infamous “IFs”. How different would things be now if Seb and Danny Ric had not had so many issues?

      1. Seb is the cause of his issues and Ric is beaten whenever he doesnt have issues as is Bottas. There are no ifs.

  3. It’s so easy to forget that if China and Baku had been different, Bottas would have been in such a more comfortable position this season. The reality is that he is being compared to Nico Rosberg, who when Bottas joined Mercedes, was the defending world champion.
    As much as I like him as a driver, he has failed to ruffle the feathers of Lewis Hamilton in the way that Rosberg did. Naturally this may have been the reason Mercedes hired Bottas in the first place, as a solid team mate to Hamilton, but one who could not feasibly challenge Lewis for the championship.
    Top teams often will choose one driver over the other, its natural sadly. I do feel though that
    Bottas will be out of Mercedes as abruptly as he was hired, and that is a shame!

    1. As much as I like him as a driver, he has failed to ruffle the feathers of Lewis Hamilton in the way that Rosberg did.

      Nice comment. It does help to have a bit of context to better assess Rosberg, doesn’t it? I never felt Rosberg got an easy “one-hit wonder” WDC, and my respect for his performances has been elevated this year.

      1. Yeah fair comments. The big difference, aside from the nature of the LH/NR rivalry that had them as friends and rivals going back to their youth in carts, was that their cars were utterly dominant. Since VB has been on the team, Ferrari has become more of a threat and no longer are two Mercs locking up the front row as was a given when NR was there. Even RBR has managed wins.

        VB is hinting at that kind of scenario when he says if the points difference to LH was minimal they’d be fighting flat out for the WDC, however, with Ferrari now in the mix, VB really has to come out of the blocks swinging next year. No option. Whereas Nico had full seasons to battle LH due to no other challengers, now with SV hovering in his Ferrari VB must dominate both drivers immediately next year or find himself in the same scenario as this year. I’ll not hold my breath, but it sure would make for an interesting thing to see. A different dynamic where there would actually be a rivalry at Merc again rather than a love-in.

        1. Good points about his approach for 2019, @robbie

        2. Well reasoned arguments from everyone in this thread. I think Bottas is a very good driver, but Rosberg was much better. I’m one of the few who’s always given Rosberg his just dues. Most people I recall arguing the subject with on here rated Schumacher as “washed up” & “old” when Rosberg was alongside him at Mercedes, but the way Michael hustled that car around Monaco told me everything I needed to know about his abilities. Rosberg learned an awful lot from Schumi, & once he got a hold of Hamilton’s data & could see exactly where & how he was being outperformed, that’s what allowed him over the years to eventually take the fight to Lewis. Hamilton’s always been quicker (much better race craft as well), but there are few drivers on the grid currently who could run Lewis as close as Nico did.

        3. Dave (@davewillisporter)
          23rd October 2018, 21:14

          Rosberg was a wily fox and an extremely dedicated and studious one at that. From 2013 to 2016 he examined Hamilton’s telemetry and taught himself how to drive that car fast. I can remember Lewis bemoaning several times the sharing of data across the garage. Every advantage he had could be scrutinised and copied. Lewis may have been the best natural driver but Nico was a cyborg in his ability to absorb and turn that telemetry into on track performance. The gap between them in qualy narrowed and narrowed to that epic Singapore 0.007 difference. Add that to his intimate knowledge of Lewis’s psyche and he was probably the only driver with the particular skills to beat Lewis in the same car ….. once! (That’s why he retired – he knew he couldn’t sustain the effort he gave to winning that WDC.)
          Credit to Nico. I think Valterie has a few years to go before he could get close to emulating what Nico achieved (if he has that long!) His only chance would be a re-emergence of Lewis’s persecution complex 2011 season, incidentally a similar attitude caused Lewis a few problems in 2016 as his frustrations with bad luck boiled over, giving Nico the ideal opportunity to pounce and kick him while he was down.
          Appreciate Nico for what he was. A good driver ( I can remember a very fast performance at Singapore in a Williams, marred by a simple error) who used any and all resources to become excellent for a season.

          1. Yep… can’t argue with any of it.

    2. joe pineapples
      23rd October 2018, 18:51

      Nico Rosberg, who when Bottas joined Mercedes, was the defending world champion


      Not trolling, but just to point out Rosberg has never been a defending world champion. He wasn’t there to defend anything.

      1. Let’s call Rosberg the reigning champion, then, until Hamilton took over the title at Mexico 2017.

  4. Bottas (an everyone else) seems to forget it was the good luck of a fortuitous safety car that put him a position for the win in Azerbaijan. Before that, he was running behind Lewis and Seb, and a standard pit stop would have dropped him behind them.

    1. @kbdavies – agreed. If we say that it was bad luck that lost Bottas the victory at China, then we cannot ascribe Baku to Bottas’ bad luck, but instead Vettel’s bad luck.

    2. He might have beaten Hamilton without a SC though, when the SC came out Lewis was 20s behind Bottas (which is more or less what’s lost in the pits). And Valtteri would have come out with better tyres (he could go on the US instead of the Softs, with presumably 10 or less laps left).

      All that while being only 7s behind Vettel after the pit. A big gap with only 10 laps left, but with fresher, way softer tyres.

      Even being conservative, it seems Bottas would have been second in front of Hamilton.

  5. On both the right day and the right track he has the pace, but that just isn’t good enough. You got to be all good all the time if you drive that kind of car.

  6. Bad luck or not, Bottas is certainly making Nico Rosberg look pretty good in hindsight.

    1. Didn’t look it at times, but Rosberg most often than not took the fight directly to Hamilton – who quite likely will be remembered during the next decades as one of the top 5 drivers in F1 history. Rosberg is a deserving champion. As you say, the record of Bottas (a great driver as well) against Hamilton really helps drive home how impressive Nico Rosberg was.

  7. Bottas is a quick driver, but I see him too much of a nice bloke (I am a big fan).

    As above, he needs to mess with Lewis head to make gains, Nico won by doing this, he had to play nasty to win as Lewis was that good.

    Not sure Valterri will do that??

    1. @garns – that’s an interesting point. However, bear in mind that Mercedes invested in Rosberg with multi-year contracts, which they’ve not done so with Bottas. So, will Toto allow him to fight against Hamilton, or will Toto hold his 2020 option as a bargaining chip for good behaviour?

      1. @phylpy
        Yes Toto will hold his option for good behavior….. and it’s not right. But its F1.

        Personally I thought Dan should have joined the top 2. Lewis and Seb wont have it…….. sad for F1

        1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
          23rd October 2018, 21:22

          @garns I’d be more inclined to believe the fact that Toto dreaded a return to the ice cold tense atmosphere of the 2015 and 2016 seasons. I may be naive, but I honestly don’t think Lewis would veto anyone. They were winning, don’t upset the apple cart! Regarding Ferrari, I could believe Seb had a hand in that, Danny Ric did unsettle him in 2014!

    2. spot on @garns, that’s how Rosberg one (and few people will say that he’s a better driver than Lewis).

      I want the Williams Bottas back who clinched with Raikkonen on a weekly basis.

    3. Rosberg showed good promise in his early years, then beat Schumacher 3 straight years and kept up with Hamilton very, very well. Bottas is not at Rosberg’s level imho.

  8. He’s been better this year than his points tally shows. Lost a few sure wins, took too much pain at the start of the year. Comparisons to Rosberg are fair; when he’s good he shows a similar unbeatable composure that Rosberg did, but just like Rosberg has a few races where he looks so far behind he might as well not have turned up. Unlike Rosberg though, the Mercedes Bottas has isn’t as dominant – so his ‘anonymous’ races are going to hurt him significantly more as 2nd place is not a formality. Then again Rosberg raised his game enough to take a championship then so too can Bottas. Though if he can’t then he won’t be in that Mercedes for a lot longer.

    1. “Though if he can’t then he won’t be in that Mercedes for a lot longer.”
      Why? I’m pretty sure it’s exactly why he may be in Mercedes for years and years.
      All Mercedes cares about is first in the drivers’ and first in the constructors’ championship, which will probably both be achieved this season, so if it ain’t broke why fix it?

  9. They say nice guys finish last? Bottas, Hartley, Stoffel all have a lot of talent and guts for sure, but maybe they need to be a bit more ruthless sometimes.

    1. I always find Bottas too ruthless in defence. To the point that it sometimes looks like desperation

  10. He did have bad luck at the beginning of the season, but he hasn’t beaten Hamilton on track since Canada. Back then he was only 24 points behind Hamilton in the championship, but this has since ballooned to 129 points. That’s with Hamilton having the same number of DNFs but also the issue in Germany qualifying. Even if you discount Russia and perhaps Germany where he was ordered to hold station, that gap is still more than 100 points.

    Bottas’ biggest issue is his race pace is generally not as fast as Hamilton’s. By the time of the virtual safety car in COTA he’d already dropped 9 seconds behind in 9 laps on supersoft tyres that had done two laps less in Q2. The reason he is used as a wingman is after the first stint of the race he’s always out of contention for the win. When Rosberg was Hamilton’s teammate he’d often pit a lap later as he was only a few seconds from Hamilton. Mercedes always go for the win with the driver most likely to get it, so he needs to either outqualify Hamilton or be closer after the first stint to have a chance.

    1. To be fair, we have to probablyh say ‘except in Sochi’ @reef, as it is true Hamilton did seem faster than him there, but on his own he likely would not have gotten past so easily.

  11. “I don’t know in deep detail how the points would have been,” “I don’t like to calculate those things

    But I doooooooooooooooo…

    Ground rules I set up for myself:

    – I did not correct for mistakes entirely fault of the driver, unless it would bring back in the “joke” factor for Bottas (e.g.: VET and BOT did not collide in France, even if it’s totally Vettel’s fault, So BOT 2nd and VET 3rd)
    – Austria: HAM 4th, BOT 5th, based on the fact that HAM would have finished 4th and he was ahead of BOT for the whole of the race until BOT retired
    – Hungary: BOT 3rd, I considered a feasible finish for him if he wouldn’t have been tasked to bottle up VET.
    – I think that’s it, but it’s possible i failed to take note of some assumptions I made

    01 AUS VET 25 HAM 18 BOT 4
    02 BHR VET 50 HAM 33 BOT 22
    03 CHN VET 54 BOT 47 HAM 45
    04 AZE BOT 72 VET 64 HAM 63
    05 ESP BOT 90 HAM 88 VET 75
    06 MON HAM 103 BOT 100 VET 93
    07 CAN VET 118 BOT 118 HAM 113
    08 FRA HAM 138 BOT 136 VET 133
    09 AUT HAM 150 VET 148 BOT 146
    10 GBR VET 171 HAM 168 BOT 158
    11 GER HAM 193 BOT 176 VET 171
    12 HUN HAM 218 BOT 191 VET 189
    13 BEL HAM 236 VET 214 BOT 203
    14 ITA HAM 261 VET 226 BOT 218
    15 SIN HAM 286 VET 241 BOT 230
    16 RUS HAM 304 VET 256 BOT 255
    17 JPN HAM 329 BOT 273 VET 266
    18 USA HAM 344 BOT 283 VET 278

    1. youre forgetting lewis should have won in Australia.

      1. I was trying to correct Bottas’ “joke factor”, not Hamilton’s or even Vettel’s (because, hear hear, not every Vettel misfortune this year was down to him. But a lot.).

  12. Starting 3rd, he managed to finish behind Verstappen who started 18th, and behind Vettel who was 18th at the end of the first lap. That’s how good he is, or better said, is not.
    He is like Massa or Kimi (maybe not the latest version of Kimi), who simply disappears during the race and always seems to just fall down the order. Yes, he had some tough psychological decisions from Mercedes to deal with, but so did others during their careers. Rosberg picked himself up from 2 consecutive defeats from Hamilton, to win the title. It took all he had, but he showed he has it, and even during the first 2-3 seasons, he never let Hamilton have it easy. I’ve never rated Rosberg much, and thought Schumacher is just past it during their partnership, but his seasons against Lewis made me realize that he was actually one of the best drivers on the grid. He had both speed and mental resilience to fight Lewis and bounce back from defeats.

    Bottas seems to be lacking in comparison.

    1. If we are fair then @biggsy, Hamilton, who started on pole, also managed to finish behind Verstappen, and Raikkonen, so both lost two places – maybe it was the car/team then?

    2. Kimi Raikkonen from 2001-2007 was something else imho. After his championship, he tailed off in 08 and 09 and was kicked out of Ferrari.

      When he came back in 2012 at Lotus he lost a step as a driver: still very good on occasion but just not quite what he had been.

  13. Hope he wins a race after Hamilton clinches his title.

    1. As you can see at this point in a normal universe we’d have 6 different winners but ofc mercedes were right to issue unnecessary team orders in russia, like someone said!

  14. Put Bottas in any other car than a Mercedes and he will drop at least to position 12 on the grid.

  15. him and lewis were on different strategies on sunday.
    lewis was pitted early only to try and get him ahead of kimi.
    if lewis was racing bottas he would have been pitted a few laps before bottas,
    which means lewis would have stayed ahead anyway.
    so ofcourse bottas was told not to hold lewis up.
    also. all the drivers in the top 6 have had bad luck,not just bottas.
    but lewis has been the one to bounce back the quickest and the best out of the top 6.

  16. He was nowhere in COTA, Singapore and another couple of races.
    He somehow is harder on the tyres yet slower than Hamilton most of the time.
    Cant do much like that.

    1. Yeah. Bottas the ‘best 5 drivers’ on the grid can’t even beat inconsistent Kimi on points with his Mercedes.

      1. to be fair, Kimi benefited from others misfortune or mistakes many times at the early stage of the season. He also had a lot of bad luck. but over half of the points he lost due to bad luck were sort of gained again. He was so lucky in Baku. running slow in 6th then verstappen and Ricciardo collide, vettel locks up, Bottas has a puncture. There were several other races where he gained places without really doing much for it. Where as Bottas has hardly ever had a better result due to things going his way. Admittedly, he has underperformed a fair bit recently, but his luck has certainly been worse overall than Kimi’s.

        1. In contrast, since Monza, Kimi has been doing quite well, and even won (did he outscore Vettel? I think so), but lacking in the last half of the season after a good start always seems to stay more in our minds than the other way around (how many Q3’s did Kimi, or his team, botch in that first half again? Enough that I didn’t think he’d ever be on the front row again.).

  17. Bottas could have won many races this season prior to the one he handed to the team. But he was mostly lucky to end up in that situation. I think he has been slightly behind this season, perhaps the car is not so straight forward. And then his race pace is ever so slightly lacking.

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