Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Baku City Circuit, 2018

Bottas “cried like a baby” after losing Baku win

2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Valtteri Bottas admits he broke down and cried after losing a likely victory in this year’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver was leading with three laps to go when he hit a piece of debris which punctured a tyre. He was forced to retire, which he called “one of the biggest disappointments I have had in my career.”

“I thought it was one my best races I have done,” Bottas explained in an interview for Mercedes. “I didn’t lead for a long time but I managed to fight myself up to the lead of the race.”

Bottas took the lead when the timing of a Safety Car period worked out in his favour, and had just seen off an attack from Sebastian Vettel when he was forced out.

“I remember just before the moment I had such good confidence and I felt everything was under control. I knew I’m going to take a little bit of luck and win the race but I hit some debris on the main straight which I didn’t see and had a puncture and the race finished there.”

The defeat hit Bottas hard as he had come close to winning both of the previous rounds. “A couple of races before that I nearly won, I was second a couple of times, and so I was really looking forward to winning my first race of the year but it never happened.

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Baku City Circuit, 2018
Puncture wrecked Bottas’ victory hopes
“Afterwards I could see the disappointment in the whole team. I got a lot of support from everyone.

“When I got back to the hotel I crashed completely, I dropped on my knees and I was crying like a small baby. But then I got up and decided one failure is not going to put me down.”

The debris Bottas hit was left following a collision between Kevin Magnussen and Pierre Gasly. Lewis Hamilton won the race for Mercedes but team principal Toto Wolff said the loss of a likely one-two was a “terrible moment”.

“Unbelievable, three laps before the end, because of a completely senseless manoeuvre he ran over debris, punctured a tyre and had to retire. This was a typical, super-cruel moment of Formula 1.”

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Keith Collantine
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34 comments on “Bottas “cried like a baby” after losing Baku win”

  1. Understandable.

    1. Crying is no shame and it’s a sign of maturity and emotional health to be able to cry and show emotion in situations like this.

      1. And shows weakness vs. the competition. Title candidate, yeah right..

        1. It’s either that or you go and find the culprit in the paddock after the race ‘to show strength’ vs the competition? I prefer the Bottas way, even if he never wins.

          BTW @nathanbuilder good riddance!

  2. “Unbelievable, three laps before the end, because of a completely senseless manoeuvre he ran over debris, punctured a tyre and had to retire.

    I presume the “completely senseless manoeuvre” refers to the KMag-Gasly collision that created the debris (and not a manoeuvre that Bottas made)?

    1. @phylyp Either that or senseless in the meaning that it was nothing Bottas did wrong.

    2. It happened on the start-finish straight, I would think it was an uncleared part of a Red Bull car.

      1. it was debris from a contact between Magnussen and Gasly the previous lap.
        His tyre was gone when he got to the point where the bulls collided.

  3. This was a typical, super-cruel moment of Formula 1.

    There is an other way of losing a race which you totally dominated which I think is much more ‘super-cruel’. :P

    1. Fikri Harish (@)
      23rd December 2018, 11:27

      Not really.
      Bottas could’ve refused to obey that team order if he really wanted to.
      Not saying that there wouldn’t be a consequence but that was still his choice.

      On the other hand, losing a race in the final stretch because something that is completely out of your hands? Go ask the Toyota guys how painful it was back in ’16.

  4. Ah jeez this makes Valtteri sound like an emotional wreck! At least he only has one or two more years to endure before Russell steps up (or Stroll buys his seat). No tears in Formula E, they’re all having way too much fun ;-)

  5. Aww. I’d give him a cuddle.

  6. Am I the only one who doesn’t get all the fuss about Baku? It was exactly like Australia with the roles reversed, where Vettel completely dominated the weekend (Hamilton in Aus), behind him, Hamilton (Kimi in Aus) followed and copied the strategy because he was the leading driver of the opposite team and Bottas (Vettel in Aus) driving in third, losing to his teammate in Quali and the Race up until this point, only to luck into the lead with the help of the safety car and extending their stint (because they didn’t have anything to lose at the moment). Bottas led for what? 2 laps, before he retired. I doubt Vettel would react the same way as Bottas if he lost in Australia (mind you Germany was a completely different situation).

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      23rd December 2018, 12:56

      The thing is, Bottas will have got 2nd without the safety car and not 3rd like Vettel. Also, he will have been on significently better tyres than vettel and likely will have closed that gap down to under 5 seconds without the safety car. He won’t have won, but due to making the tyres last as well as he did and making no mistake near the end of the race, I don’t see what the problem with bringing this back up as a big missed win for Bottas.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        23rd December 2018, 12:57

        And i forgot to add the biggest thing of all. He didn’t end up even finishing in the position he started in. He was forced to retire. If that didn’t happen, it wouldn’t be such a big deal.

      2. So in the end he would have gained 2nd with an almost zero possibility to challenge for the win (Ferrari were vastly superior in the Baku straights, Vettel’s tyres weren’t that old and as we saw in Bahrain it’s highly unlikely Bottas would overtake Vettel). And then he retired. Disapointing yes, but hardly something to be sooo devastated. Vettel dominating the field and suddenly crashing in the rain in Hockenheim, in front of his home crowd was devastating. Ricciardo dominating with a slower car in Monaco in 2016 and losing the win because of his team, was devastating. Losing a podium, or even a win that fell on his laps at the end of a eventfull race, I don’t think is so devastating to lose the motivation for the rest of the season. If anything, I would consider Russia more disaponting, because he did everything perfect that weekend and he was forced to give up his place.

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          23rd December 2018, 13:41

          Retiring from what would have been a win through no fault of your own is understandable surely. Bottas had a better compound as well as fresher tyres so it wasn’t impossible that he would have caught right up, but I do think overtaking would have been unlikely. I don’t know why you are saying it like he lost a podium. He lost at least 18 points. That is a lot and a puncture through no fault of your own can be more upsetting than when you know when you have made a mistake costing you your own race.

    2. If I remember correctly, Bottas was actually pulling away from Vettel on older tyres before the safety car came out and called the battle off. I can’t remember how far from a ‘pit window’ the gap was, but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Bottas extending the gap enough to exit the pits still in the lead, ahead of Vettel. And even if he’d come out behind, on that much fresher tyres and with the huge slipstream effect on the straights of Baku (just look at the Red Bulls), surely the game was on anyway. Far from Vettel domination. Still, maybe 60/40 chance of Vettel beating Bottas and vice verca. It’s a shame the safety car came out and ruined what could’ve been a classic fight for victory.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        23rd December 2018, 19:27

        You are correct there. And this is why I’m unsure why some people were 100% certain Bottas wouldn’t have a chance at winning even without the safety car.

        Bottas, Vettel and Hamilton all started on the super soft tyres. Bottas may have not been quite as quick as them at this stage, but he only fell around 7 seconds behind Hamilton. Hamilton then locked up and had to pit due to this. He then came out on the softs and did the rest of the race on these. But Bottas was slightly quicker at first and Hamilton never ended up being quicker even near the end of Bottas’s stint which was surprising. At the time Hamilton pitted, Bottas held a gap of around 12 seconds behind Vettel, which admittedly was quite a lot. But it didn’t drop any further. It actually started closing up again slightly. On lap 37, Bottas did the fastest lap of the race which nobody ended up beating. When Hamilton had come out of the pits, he was 17 seconds behind Bottas. This ended up hanging around between 19 and 20 seconds behind him. This will have been enough for Bottas to pit even without the safety car and get out ahead of Hamilton. If this was the case, then he will have come out around 10 seconds behind Vettel and fractionally ahead of Hamilton. But Vettel and Hamilton were on the weakest compound as well as with a fair few laps on them. Where as Bottas will have been on the strongest (ultrasoft). there were 10 laps remaining and given he was pretty much as fast before as well as setting the fastest lap of anyone, there is little doubt he will have been even faster now. I think it will have been enough to get close to vettel on the last two laps. I’m not sure about getting past though.

  7. ”a completely senseless manoeuvre” – Indeed. The most fitting way to describe the Magnussen-Gasly incident.

    1. @jerejj: and hey, couldn’t even one of the marshalls pick the debris out of the track? There was at least a minute to do that after the last driver passed the main straight…

      or maybe it is that no-one even saw the MAG-GAS -incident and so they didn’t know that there was some debris on the track until Valtteri had his tyre puncture. Debris in a high speed place like that… with a bit worse luck that incident could have turned ugly. Really ugly.

      Poor Valtteri, though. To lose a race like that…

      1. @dinaveer LOL, precisely what I pointed out at the time. More or less a carbon copy of my words. A marshal indeed should’ve gone to pick up that debris immediately after all the remaining drivers (who of course where bunched up at the SC-restart) in the race had passed that section of the circuit following the incident that led to the piece of debris falling onto the track surface in the first place. There would’ve been more than enough time to safely do that before the leaders would’ve reached that section again due to the length of the circuit, but I guess a variety of things eventually led to it not happening such as a potential lack of awareness of the debris and thus lack of information from race control to the marshals about it, etc.

  8. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    23rd December 2018, 15:09

    “Senseless manoeuvre” – wait till Magnussen hears that one.

    1. I’m pretty sure Kmag’s is used to hearing that every race weekend.

  9. Weak.

    1. Well done. I like how you cleverly commented on your own comment there and all in just one word.

  10. I’m sorry, but loosing first place because you hit something you couldn’t see is unfortunate, but not the end of the world. I’d apply the “You weren’t meant to win” philosophy. There are F1 drivers who will never challenge for a podium place in their entire career because the car they use just won’t let them. Be grateful for what you have.
    Of course, if you saw the debris and decided to run them over then you’ve only got yourself to blame, so again, accept this as a lesson, “You should have known better.”
    I would have thought being told to relinquish first place to your team mate simply because it suits team management is far more morale sapping, especially when they then go on saying how much they value your contribution and how they want you to do well in future races.

  11. Bottas has been a great team-player in 2018 and helped Hamilton more times than I can count, ordered or voluntarly. But it needs to stop. He should stop feeling sorry for himself and from 2019 onwards demand to be re-paid for his loyalty. As an employee it is his job to support Mercedes become constructors world champions – not helping Hamilton become world champion. In my opinion he has been too generous already and should aim at maxizing his success only.

    1. That’s up to him. All he has to do is lead LH, and he’ll get what you suggest it is that he should demand. Imho, demanding is not the way to go, and likely not compatible with the relationship they have. VB needs to come out of the blocks at the very start of 2019 dominating and that way he’ll have earned a top spot, with the teams’ blessing. He’d have to back up demands with performance anyway, so the necessary performance will speak for itself in terms of where VB will stand next year, and demanding will not be necessary. Without question VB will be spending all his waking moments during this off-season, just as Nico would have, trying to ensure he can maximize his challenge next year.

  12. MB (@muralibhats)
    23rd December 2018, 17:52

    Pretty odd for Toto sympathizing Bottas on a win he lost due to fate. He is not the first and only one to loose it. Kimi at Spa in the rain affected race is classic example. Hamilton loosing points for racing incident is another instance when the sport is cruel. Whereas the win Bottas earned and deserved gets robbed and that one gets hushed out – That is more cruel that what happend in Baku. They are just using this for promotional purposes. Vettel loosing in Germany Is also an example. Dont see anyone harping about it.

    1. @muralibhats But people indeed were/have been harping about that incident as it was rather costly for his WDC chances since he effectively handed the 25 points to Hamilton on a golden plate in that race.

      1. It was a lot more than 25 points. A net 32 or 37 depending on where Hamilton finished (P2, 3 or 4).

  13. I’m just here to say that Bottas looks like Warwick Davis’ Marvin in that picture.

  14. “Just washing it aside all of the helplessness inside…Pretending I don’t feel misplaced is so much simpler than change…”

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