Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2020

Bottas blocked out social media and news coverage of Sakhir GP

2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Valtteri Bottas says he avoided all coverage of his tough weekend in the Sakhir Grand Prix.

Bottas spent much of the race behind stand-in team mate George Russell and finished eighth after a botched pit stop left him on an old set of tyres, which he admitted risked making him look like a “fool”.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Bottas described how he shut out all coverage of the last race.

“Obviously on Sunday, I got to deal with all the media and when you’re the driver having a bad race you have to deal with it and I did.

“I’ve learnt from the past that sometimes the best thing to do is then block everything, not to look at anything. So after Sunday, I really haven’t looked at a single headline or a single news article or social media. That’s the way sometimes you have to do it and it worked for me.”

The identity of Bottas’s team mate this weekend remains unknown, as Mercedes is waiting to learn whether Lewis Hamilton will test negative for Covid-19, which would allow him to return. Bottas says he feels ready for the season finale.

“I feel, again, full of energy for the new weekend and feel that I’m in a place that I can perform, that’s the main thing. I think every driver has their own ways to reset and get back up when you have a bad moment.”

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff suggested last week that Bottas’s performance has a pattern of declining once a championship is decided. However Bottas, who has scored just eight points in the last three races, feels luck has been against him lately.

“All I can say is that since Imola, it’s been a run of really, really bad luck,” he said. “I can’t remember the last time when I was on the podium.

“Definitely I feel that I’ve not really been performing at my best in the last few races but of course I still try to extract everything I can. There’s many factors in this sport. Sometimes it’s luck, sometimes it’s what you do yourself in the car and outside the car.

“All I can say that I can do much better than – if you look at the last, I don’t know, four races on average – I feel that I need to do better.”

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2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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35 comments on “Bottas blocked out social media and news coverage of Sakhir GP”

  1. That makes sense. I don’t think there was much positive stuff he missed. I do hope he can pick himself up and show us not just speed in qualifying but also a decent race to get back on that podium.

    1. Yeah @bascb, doubt there’s anything he needed from that, good advice from people close to him won’t come from social after all anyway.

      It makes sense that there’s a lot of attention on who’s going to be the other driver in the Merc. because it is the fastest car, because Russell did well, and because Hamilton, but in the end for Bottas it is just about trying to get everything correct from his side to get that win whoever he has to beat, isn’t it!?

      He also isn’t wrong that he had a lot of luck lately either, even if I do feel others might have been able to take away more, things certainly didn’t go his way and luck wasn’t around for him as far as I can see.

  2. For sure he had some bad luck but that can’t always be the reason. A few times he has made bad starts. But for a merc driver he all too often seems to be in danger of losing p2 in the championship. The current merc is at the level of dominance of the 2014 one. Should be a 1-2 every race but often isn’t with him.

    1. I really don’t think it is even close to the 2014 level of dominance. Back then in 2014 – 2016, we could see one or both Hamilton and rosberg mess up a lap in qualifying and still comfortably be one two. Bottas is getting noticed for bad laps more than Rosberg or Hamilton back then because the next team is not as far behind on average. Even Hamilton nearly got beaten to the front row by Verstappen in the Eifel Grand prix.

      I personally think Mercedes have been ahead of the rest by a smaller margin since Rosberg left with Ferrari having a car very nearly as good in 2017 and 2018 but with Vettel and Kimi just not maximising things.

      1. @thegianthogweed
        The big reason why Mercedes appears not as dominant in 2020 as it was in 2016 is because Verstappen makes the gap look far smaller than it actually is.

        1. Still think other teams were a lot closer after 2016. Vettel was pretty much the best driver on the grid in 2015 and the distance between him and Hamilton points wise was 103. In 2017, Ferrari was far closer and some did think it was getting on for equal (e.g. Hamilton could win in it) and Vettel was underperforming compared to hamilton. The gap here was 46 this year which for “dominating” team isn’t actually that huge. And he was wasn’t considered to have a truly great season this year. I think the car showed it was very strong given Bottas still got over 300 points and yet Vettel still managed to beat him.

          In 2018, vettel dropped another few places in the yearly driver rankings, and still was closer points wise than 2015 when he was votes driver of the season.

          Basically, I think since 2017, Mercedes have had at least one team closer to them throughout the season than the 2014-2016 domination. The difference performance wise IMO just isn’t as big any more and it isn’t just to do with Verstappen being great (which I do think he is).

          1. @thegianthogweed
            You can’t put 2020 in the same category as 2017, 2018 and 2019. Those seasons were actually semi competitive. 2020 is just a continuation of 2016.

        2. I find much easier to believe Mercedes is managing more their parts than it having anything to do with Verstappen, who should have a lot more poles than he has if he were as fast as the bloke there thinks he is.

          1. Hard to rack up poles when Mercedes has been far quicker than Red Bull in every season he’s been in the sport.

            Statistics without context are meaningless by the way. If Russell was in the Mercedes all season, he’d easily score over 10 poles and 10 wins. Instead he has 0 points because he’s in a Williams.

          2. Pole wise statistically, Verstappen barely looks any better than Stroll, which is quite amusing. I really am surprised that given how good Verstappen is in qualifying, even Ricciardo has one more pole than him.

  3. I rate him intelligent enough to have long ago realized he’s not ‘it’.

    I may be wrong, though.

    1. Well Barrichello accepted his fate to be n.2 for Schumacher but also had quite a lot of bad luck in his side. He got his first podiums before joining Ferrari and got his first win there. Which shows that he was able to be there if everything was right. Coulthard got his first win before joining Mclaren (well it was a Williams which wasn’t rubbish) and after joining in Mclaren felt that Mika took his place. Still Mika was faster than him and even though he ended up in second in 2001 he still wasn’t right up there with Mika and Michael. But as well as Rubens if the stars were right he was fast.
      Webber was much more aggressive than Rubens or even David but his role was to support Vettel. In the end he was still slower than him mainly because those Red bulls were built around Seb rather than Mark.

      Bottas has had “the 2004 Ferrari” underneath him for a while and luck hasn’t been on his side. Still he wants to believe (which is the right way of thinking) that he can beat Hamilton but he still hasn’t got the speed to do it. Mercedes is Hamilton’s team and will be until when Hamilton decides to retire. When it happens that seat has some bright future talents waiting and I’m afraid that Bottas has sealed his fate to become a new Coulthard, Barrichello or Webber. In the end he seems to have one season left to broke this “curse” of becoming the nearly man. Fast in a good day but missing that final tenth.

      1. He was never the nearly man. You could argue Coulthard and Webber were, but never Bottas.

        1. Not quite there man?

  4. I dont blame him at all, it felt like a witch-hunt against him after Sunday’s race as if he stopped Russell winning. Yes most British F1 fans wants Russell in the Merc, but when you have most of the so called F1 pundits who are doing everything, to persuade Toto to drop Bottas for Russell based on one race around what look like a short Oval circuit. Some have gone to the length of saying they should use Russell as a negotiating tool for Lewis’s contract.

    1. Why wouldn’t they use it as a negotiating tool? They don’t need him to win and F1’s days are numbered with the death of ICE only 10 years away in Europe. Auto makers cant afford to lavish huge budgets on these teams anymore. It’s a privilege to drive for Mercedes and become a champion and a hero, not the other way around.

  5. A small burst of realism from Bottas who has seemed rather in denial in the last few weeks. But still not there, still referring to ‘luck’. Hiding from the fan commentary and media reporting is understandable in a human way but for a top flight sportsman surely his self confidence should allow him to surf the mud thrown at him and use it to get stronger.

    I have a suspicion that he might fall apart if something else happens to him like it did last Sunday. He must have been sure he would have the upper hand even when qualifying was so close. And then to be passed at the first corner, kept handily behind despite Russell’s car having and on again off again sensor problem – well that would dent anyone’s confidence. Photos after the race showed Bottas looking haunted and gaunt.

    If a semi-sick Hamilton is in the car this week and trounces him, that might not be the trigger but if Russell is and managed to do it all again…………. The winter break can’t come fast enough for Bottas’ mental state.

  6. I guess he’s obsessed by social media and lost the fight to addiction. You just have not to press you finger on the screen.

    1. It’s not easy, especially now that I’ve been working from home, I spent hours every day on social media. I’ve unfollowed every page and every friend on Facebook to make sure I only use it for Messenger.

  7. Pair up Hamilton and Russel for 2021 onward please? The sooner the better. Thanks.

    1. Either Hamilton has to decide on his extension.
      As much as I’m impressed with Russell, I would definitely want THIS to happen.

  8. Yup, this is the story of the weekend. Bottas did not look even remotely comfortable in that presser. Where as Russell was a beaming bright light of confidence, even using language such as “my engineers” to refer to the Mercedes engineers.

    Hopefully Hamilton doesn’t get that last minute negative test and we get to see this fight play out on the track.

    Great question from @dieterrencken about the contract being possibly traded.

  9. This delay in giving news on Hamilton concerning his participation this weekend is getting weird and weirder. He’s running out of time and definitely out of the question for the race, unless he’d get an exemption from the 48-hour isolation requirement for Abu Dhabi arrivals.

    1. It seems that Lewis might already have tested negatively in Bahrain (as AMuS reported), is supposed to fly to Abu Dhabi tomorrow to get another test and wait the mandatory 24h period to rejoin the team in time for FP3 or qualifying (provided that second test is negative as well) but the team is reluctant to confirm anythign since it won’t be 100% sure until he actually gets a negative for that second test @jerejj, @skipgamer

  10. Go home and don’t come back, Bottas.
    It’s very embarrassing what you’re doing.
    Finnish drivers have always been admired and respected but with your attitude and your handling, frankly it is difficult to continue doing so.
    You are in the best current Formula 1 team, driving what is by far the best car, you should be fighting the championship with your teammate and not giving pity race after race.

    1. It’s childish pathetic gif like this that shows everyone why ignoring social media is probably a good thing.

  11. Good that you did block it out Bottas, because it isn’t pretty

  12. Too late for him. He’s the Barrichello of this era and it’s the truth…

  13. Hes reading it all but he never was there for his performance anyways so why not go the “head in the sand” route with media.

  14. He should go drive rally. He’s very good at that. WC material.

  15. Is this Bottas 3.0 — where you just block out reality?

    1. No it’s Barrichello and Irvine combined

  16. He should had blocked social media all-year round. It is a waste of seat. Bring Checo or someone that really want to do something big with the best car and team around. I personally see this lack of performance as the smoking gun against Hamilton to probe a bias.

  17. No worries Valterri, just buckle up get back in form. Aim for your usual 2-3 race wins next year. Purpose complete!!

  18. This he should have done years ago. We’ve heard he actually engages with Hamilton fans on Twitter and that’s just crazy. At least one of the ‘to whom it may concern fu’ was to people telling him off on social media. This obviously has been eating at him, so honestly quite poor not to realize how toxic it is.

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