Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Bahrain International Circuit, 2020

Bottas says gap to Hamilton is “confusing” after clean lap

2020 Bahrain Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

Valtteri Bottas said he doesn’t understand why he was not on his team mate’s pace in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver said he produced a clean lap at the end of the session despite ending up almost three-tenths of a second behind Lewis Hamilton as the pair swept the front row of the grid.

Asked how Hamilton had managed to comfortably qualify ahead of him, Bottas said: “I don’t really know.

“It felt good, that’s the problem. It feels good and you feel like you’re extracting everything from the car but the lap time is not there. That’s the most confusing part. But I can’t really say much at the moment.

“There was no mistakes in the last lap, I thought it was really good. It was like small things here and there, there was no one clear corner. So I need to find out but at least it’s another front row lock-out for us.”

Bottas doesn’t believe he has a problem with his chassis. “I don’t think there’s any underlying issue really with the performance of the car,” he said. “I think it’s there and the long runs were good so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

However he admitted he was taken aback by how far ahead Hamilton was. “I was quite surprised when I saw the gap,” he said. “I think we ended up with quite different set-ups with Lewis. We’l see if that makes any difference tomorrow.”

Bottas said it isn’t unusual for the two to go in different directions on set-up. “In times it’s been nearly identical, there’s been times it’s different,” he said.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2020 Bahrain Grand Prix

Browse all 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

56 comments on “Bottas says gap to Hamilton is “confusing” after clean lap”

  1. Ahmad Iskandar Mazlan
    28th November 2020, 15:46

    “But I cant really say really much at the moment” .. yes we know your car is different than Lewis.

    1. Wow a little harsh no?

      1. Not a little harsh, just harsh.

    2. Chill, dude. Don’t kill him.

  2. I agree 100%. David.

  3. But he shouldn’t be confused. Its simple really, he’s just slower.

    1. How Toto must regret committing to him for another season. Perez or Russell would be far better at not been intimidated by Hamilton. Even the unflappable Hulkenberg would be better

      And Hamilton would relish the competition as he always does

      1. @banbrorace Lol @ Perez. You have got to be kidding me. He wouldn’t come even close to Bottas.

        They were waiting for Russel’s contract at Williams to end. Hopefully for 2022 he gets the drive.

        1. I don’t get where you’re deducing that from. But even if we agree that Bottas is a slightly quicker driver – he certainly doesn’t have as good a mental approach in fighting Hamilton as Perez would

          1. @banbrorace Not sure why you think Merc wants a better challenger beside LH.

          2. lexusreliabilty?
            28th November 2020, 17:46

            Agreed. For the same reasons RBR don’t want a better challenger for Max.

          3. Ah but in RBR’s case they do either want AA to improve or to replace him because the gap is just too great between the drivers. This has been the talk all season, yet there is not that kind of talk coming from Merc, and why would there be when they have looked to win everything again this year from the getgo, and when they have won the titles already and when VB sits second (albeit quite distant from LH) in the WDC standings.

          4. @robbie Tend to agree. But it’s not that Mercedes don’t want anyone to challenge Lewis. What they want is to preserve the positive vibe within the whole team. ROS v. HAM caused team frictions, which ultimately loses them overall performance as intra-team relations degenerate (and can lead to key team members leaving). You can maybe see the repercussions of 2007 on McLaren, Deniss, Whitmarsh etc. eventually leading to their downfall. The problem is that anyone wanting to beat Hamilton would probably have to cause waves of team disharmony to unsettle him (that’s Button’s constant advice anyhow). It’s just not worth it to Mercedes, even if it would be better for Formula 1 as a whole (and as a spectacle). It’s why I’d like to see Russell there. I think he’d be careful not to cause too much friction, knowing he was potentially the future. Verstappen, yes, it would be fantastic, but it would also be explosive. Mercedes really don’t want that.

          5. @david-br For the most part I agree, however, I am always mindful that TW had already signed Nico mid-2016 for two more years of said friction, so I think the strife created by the tense relationship between LH and NR, while being a bit more difficult to manage, was still manageable nonetheless, and they wanted more of it but for Nico retiring.

            As well, I’ll always admire TW for letting LH and NR settle it on the track, because at the time he knew that they sat miles ahead of everyone else. To have then done an MS/Ferrari and made it all about LH would have taken all the potency out of the season(s). As luck would have it for TW, no sooner did he have to scramble for a driver and poach VB from Williams, but Ferrari got a bit stronger (at least matching Merc for the first halves only of 2017 and 2018), and so no longer did TW have to carry that sense of responsibility to help create the show with his drivers miles out front. He could make it more about LH vs Ferrari and thus VB could take a bit of a back seat, as it turns out he has done since 2017.

            But no I agree that unfortunately Merc do not want the extra management duties, and for sure at this point they are not going to let anything stand in the way of LH achieving 8+ WDCs and why would they when it is such a rare opportunity that absolutely must be capitalized on while it is there, and imho will never happen again in F1 due to the new philosophy.

          6. lexusreliabilty?
            28th November 2020, 20:22


            why would there be when they have looked to win everything again this year from the getgo

            You’ve addressed your own point. Bottas is there or thereabouts to his illustrious team mate more often than not. Gasly and Albon have been getting lapped by Max. Max is good but at the top end you don’t lap your team mate on pure pace unless they’ve had issues (eg Bottas contact in Instanbul on lap1 that left him compromised for the whole race).

          7. @banbrorace Perez is a lot slower. He couldn’t even stay close to Button.

            What does Perez’ mental approach have to do with anything if Hamilton is well ahead in Q3 and drives off into the sunset during the race?

            What Perez does “well” is starting from P11 in a car that should have easily made it into the top 10, on a harder tyre and doing a race strategy with a stop less and hope that that strategy works better than the usual strategy used by the top10 drivers.

            On top of that, Perez is way too inconsistent. Much more so than Bottas is. Perez usually does a decent race in Baku, Canada, Spa and Monza plus on occasion another race. The rest of the season he’s invisible t the back of the midfield.

            Perez is more like Albon than he is like Bottas.

        2. Ahmad Iskandar Mazlan
          28th November 2020, 23:35

          Yes I was hoping GR63 next year if not 2022. Then Lewis can take more poles & wins 😎

          1. @f1osaurus

            It’s a bit lame to compare the 2013 Perez with the current one

            You’re misunderstanding what I mean with mentality. Bottas is now a mentally spent force, he’s more or less beaten by Hamilton before the weekend starts. Perez arrives with no baggage

            I also don’t see Mercedes been bothered who Lewis’s teammate is as he won’t be bothered. I don’t think he cares if it was Max/Seb/Fernando at their best as long as he’s treated fairly

          2. @banbrorace Why is that lame? You think he somehoe magically imrpoved? He’s barely been better than Stroll!

            Hulkenberg races there for one race and he gives them feedback that significantly improves the car. So clearly Perez is lacking in that department and Bottas is said to give good feedback.

            Perez is a midfield driver with only occasional performance spikes. He’s not a fit for a top team. There is no wat he could operate at the level where Bottas is. What would Perez bring for Mercedes? What on eart would be the point?

            They have Russel waiting who is a much better prospect for the future. That’s what Mercedes needs.

          3. @f1osaurus

            It’s no longer about ability and everything about mindset. Just like the players that were marmalised by Federer and Nadal, back in the noughties – they became lesser players because of this and their results on average were worse and this coincided with the peak years of their career

            My thoughts are more and illustration as to how almost pathetic Botas now looks. There’s no comeback from this, that is unless Hamilton goes back to the worse form of his worst year, 2011 and even then I’ve no confidence that Valtteri would exploit

            I think Perez has improved more than you give him credit for and put him in the best car and you’d get more consistent performances. Something we’ve seen is vital to Vettel

            None of these drivers are in the Hamilton, Alonso, Shui league – ie. wringing performances more than expected out of their weaker cars (Hamilton ’09-’12, Alonso since ’08) so it’s a matter of having a rival that sticks their chin out a bit

            Of course, this is all a moot point. If I’m Toto, I’m not interested in giving Hamilton a team-mate to think about. But it would be better for the sport and I’m a big Hamilton fan

          4. @banbrorace Utter nonsense.

          5. @f1osaurus

            Thanks for your, er, considered contribution

            I’m not certain I want you not thinking anything I write is anything but “nonsense” when you seem to be judging a driver on their 2013 performances

          6. @banbrorace You’re whole rat depends on a load of unproven assumptions which you insist are true without a shred of proof. In fact with heaps of proof to the opposite.

            Perez has been mediocre this season too. Like I said he’s often been barely batter or even worse than Stroll.

            Bottas is incredibly close to one of the best drivers of all time and he keeps putting up the pressure. Perez gets beaten often enough by one of the worst drivers in F1.

            So yes your assumptions are all wrong and that makes your rant utter nonsense. There is nothing of any truth in it.

          7. @F1osaurus Hardly – have you looked at the championship standings to see how far ahead Perez is of Stroll? The consensus among most who watch F1 is that he has been having a typical Perez season – consistent and able to bring home points when his teammate makes mistakes or doesn’t deliver race to race.

            Bottas is not close to Hamilton at all. Maybe in qualifying he is fairly close but on race pace he is miles off. He is not putting any pressure on as Hamilton knows he’ll crack under pressure as usual. Bottas is a mediocre driver who would be a clear number 2 at any top team. I’d put him on below Coulthard level – Bottas has had a very good car for 4 seasons or 77 races now and he’s only won 9 of them whilst Hamilton has won 33 during that time. Plus Bottas is right in the middle of what is traditionally seen to be a driver’s peak – this is it folks, a subservient number 2 driver who talks big but can’t really deliver.

            You are the one talking utter nonsense. From your other comments you appear to be a diehard Hamilton fan who has to make out that Bottas is an incredible driver to make Hamilton appear as the best driver ever by miles. He isn’t and Bottas isn’t even close.

          8. @f1osaurus

            What have you been drinking? It’s a forum which is described as “a meeting or medium where ideas and views on a particular issue can be exchanged”

            Or is your view the only truth??!!

            I’m sure you’re on the wind up as you cannot really be serious by accusing someone of not telling the truth when they are expressing an opinion

            And there’s nothing further the truth than you using Perez’s 2013 form to judge him as a drive today

            You’re not Darren Moore in disguise are you?

            Seriously, I see this an intelligent forum where thought views are sought and no matter how much we might disagree, most don’t resort to the language and tone of the footy boards!!

          9. @banbrorace Well your posting nonsense. I’m free to point this out.

          10. @f1osaurus

            Couldn’t give a flying you know what – at you thinking I write nonsense. But please don’t put words in people’s mouths and then accuse them of saying them! I never said said never insisted anything was true, as my comments were an opinion

            You’re simply very arrogant in the way you comment, it’s as though nobody else can have an opinion without it getting shot down by you

            Look at your latest reply to ‘BottAss’, for daring to defend Peres “he’s inconsistent exactly like I described” is your reply. Reminds me of one of those ‘do as I say’ comedy bosses who shout so they are definitely heard

            What’s Perez done to you, by the way? Can you explain that if Perez is so bad, how come he would got 3rd if it hadn’t been for the engine problem, i.e. several places better than Bottas having started further behind?

            I’m no Perez fan, but you sure are turning myself into one

          11. @f1osaurus

            And I bet your Dad’s bigger than mine

          12. @f1osaurus For someone who doesn’t care, you are sure crying a lot about it.

        3. Not sure how Perez is inconsistent when he’s scored points at every race he’s been in. Bottas looks more consistent because there’s not much competition at the front. If you look back to 2018 and 2017 when there was, you’ll see that Bottas was wildly inconsistent, he went missing for large portions of the season, particularly towards the end of both of those years. In fact that’s pretty much what he’s done again this year, started off decent then faded fast.
          Perez is clearly more consistent than Bottas.

          1. He’s inconsistent exactly like I described how he is. Occasional good result and other occasions invisible and below par.

          2. @F1osaurus
            Maybe you should actually watch F1, that or you aren’t living in reality.
            Such arrogance from a keyboard warrior, it boggles the mind. Clearly you have too much free time of your hands with the amount of comments on this website. Maybe get a job or contribute something to society.

  4. Bottas should just take the Eddie Irvine approach. Like Gary Anderson said, Eddie wasn’t interested in bearing Schumacher (no 1 or otherwise), he just got on with his job.

    If Bottas thinks he’s gonna beat Lewis in the same car, he’s kidding himself. I’m not a Lewis fan in anyway shape or form.

    Back to Gary, he reckons that Bottas is in the same category of driver as Irvine or Barrichello. Both very good drivers, just not goos enough. Frankly, that’s fine.

    1. @jaymenon10 Bottas is more in league with Button and perhaps even Ricciardo. Not the absolute top, but consistent and close enough to make even the top driver’s life difficult.

      Bottas has also been extremely unlucky this season though.

      1. Haha that’s a good one, Bottas being the same level as Button, you really crack me up.

  5. It feels good and you feel like you’re extracting everything from the car but the lap time is not there. That’s the most confusing part

    TBH I felt the same when I once raced against some extremely talented go kart drivers. I thought I did a phenomenal lap just to find out that I was last in qualy well off the pace.
    On a more serious note, Bottas must admit Hamilton’s superiority and giving up on any hopes to seriously challenging him on the WDC. At least that way, he will be released of the psychological pressure that is only damaging him at the moment.

    1. giving up on any hopes to seriously challenging him on the WDC.

      you have seem to miss a small detail this year.. Hamilton already IS WDC.

      1. erikje
        you have seem to miss a small detail too ! I’ve never said this year. Hamilton and Bottas are going to be teammates next year and possibly the year after next year.

        1. I’ve never said this year.

          ah, probably still living in 1989 then …

    2. lexusreliabilty?
      28th November 2020, 17:52


      On a more serious note, Bottas must admit Hamilton’s superiority and giving up on any hopes to seriously challenging him on the WDC.

      Rosberg has a more extensive record of being beaten by Hamilton since karting yet he never gave up- and when the stars aligned for him in 2016 he finally got one over Hamilton. Every great in every sport gets beaten by people less talented- look at Bolt’s final race, Nadal and Federer multiple times by opponents that are much lower ranked, Prost lost to Lauda despite being the better driver, etc etc. You just need to always believe and if Bottas has that defeatist attitude then he should just retire and hand over the Merc seat to the hungry young guard chomping at the bit (eg Russell).

      1. I like your comment Lexus. He has to be patient. Unless ofcause his chamce never comes.

      2. lexusreliabilty?,

        Bottas never showed a will to challenge Hamilton over a season while Rosberg, even though technically inferior, was trying every trick in the book just to get under his skin and succeeded to do so. Once he figured Hamilton’s ability to set up the car, he never bothered going in different directions, he was blatantly copying his set ups and studying his telemetry which annoyed Hamilton a lot.

        If you look at the stats of Hamilton vs Rosberg during their stint together, they were more or less matched with Hamilton having the edge (35 poles to 29, 32 wins to 22, 55 podium to 50, 19 fastest lap to 16, 2 WDC to 1). You just have to look at how Hamilton’s stats got inflated from the moment Bottas was his team mate (50 wins, 36 poles, 4 WDC). The number of poles remains the same because of Ferrari being competitive in qualy in the 2018,2019 seasons and not because of Bottas being competitive.

        Bottas has never been a match to Rosberg let alone Lewis, despite the latter, Wolff and some Mercedes fans keep telling us that he is doing a solid job. The thing is Mercedes is so dominant this year that if you remove Hamilton’s points from the standings, Bottas would still be leading the WDC and Mercedes will be very close to RBR in the WCC if you add the points Hamilton snatched from Bottas which is insane.

        1. @tifoso1989

          Well said. I’ll add, Rosberg was a gifted qualifier. He often seemed outclassed when they raced wheel to wheel. But the cars were so hard to pass if he could get pole then the race was 1/2 won. Bottas just doesn’t seem to have that extra touch of quali pace Rosberg had.

        2. lexusreliabilty?
          28th November 2020, 22:53


          The number of poles remains the same because of Ferrari being competitive in qualy in the 2018,2019 seasons and not because of Bottas being competitive.

          With this you have rendered your argument about Rosberg vs Bottas flawed. In 2017 and 2018 Ferrari were in the championship fight. When it was Hamilton vs Rosberg there was no Vettel factor for 3 years. Had that been the case, I think Rosberg would have had similar stats compared to Bottas.

          1. lexusreliabilty?,
            I think you forgot that Hamilton and Rosberg were teammates in 2013, then RBR were the class of the field and Mercedes was only fast on a single lap in the first part of the season.

  6. You have to give him props for still believing he can challenge Hamilton which we all know by now is probably one of the toughest things to do in Formula 1. If he gave up and accepted he is number 2 and I was team principal he would be replaced the following season.

    1. lexusreliabilty?
      28th November 2020, 17:53


  7. If I was him, I wouldn’t be confused at all and just acknowledge I’m a crap Barrichello.

    1. I would say he is a better Barrichello. For some reason he seem to think he can beat Lewis, while Rubens just got on with his job.. Bottas thinking like this is great for Mercedes, Lewis and Toto when they come up with their “wow Bottas is so close” comments..

      1. Barrichello has more wins (and memorable too) than Bottas !

        1. @tifoso1989 just give him a year. He will equal Barrichello’s win record by then. And that too if he has a good year like 2020 (as some of his fans would say).

  8. This may sound a bit strange; but I think that Bottas put in a very good challenge against Hamilton this season.

    He has certainly become much closer in qualifying, even today his second attempt in Q3 was an improvement by about 4 tenths. That is quite a phenomenal amount.

    In circuits where the Mercedes is ahead of all other cars, getting pole is winning half the battle.
    And so in my humble opinion the biggest turning point early on in the season was the two wet qualifying sessions. Hamilton being better in such conditions gained significant points advantages in those two races.

    I think another part of Hamilton’s weaponry is that his racing and qualifying is much more calculated and deliberate. The best example of this could be seen in Turkey. Hamilton decided against taking risks during FP and even in qualifying because he knew what was at stake.
    If he binned the car and started from the back of the grid or finished outside of the points he would have had to try and consolidate his points lead at the next race, but why take that risk.
    As it turned out his patience and calculated efforts produced far better results than he probably could have expected, taking nothing away from his supreme driving skills in the wet. His post race comments highlighted this thinking when he said ‘he didn’t spin or make a mistake’, effectively he drove only as fast as he needed to do.

    Today Hamilton showed his true pace, which is generally about 3 tenths quicker, and that is why Bottas could not compete. Hamilton was able to do this because he no longer needs to be as cautious as the WDC, poles, wins head to head and the CC have all been settled for the season.

    Maybe Valtteri maybe needs to add some fruit to his porridge next season ?

    1. I think people underestimate just how hard it is to drive close but not over the limit all year. Schumacher also had that ability to drive at the very limit when needed but also just fast enough to limit errors when not required. One of Hamilton’s greatest strengths is he makes very few errors and when they do come they seem to cost him less because he balances risk and reward so well.

  9. It felt good, that’s the problem. It feels good and you feel like you’re extracting everything from the car but the lap time is not there.

    That’s how I feel when I go racing too 😂🤣

    1. U can’t be serious

  10. Nothing to do be confused by Valtteri…

Comments are closed.