Bottas’ resurgence suffering burn out

The person most allowed to feel aggrieved by Sebastian Vettel’s Canadian GP penalty is Valtteri Bottas, after all it handed Lewis Hamilton a momentum-boosting third successive win.

Bottas arrived on the 2019 grid full of porridge, espressos, facial hair and a desire to prove he is no one’s wingman.

He took the victory Down Under, even going against team orders not to take risks and chased after the fastest lap point, because “copy that but I want 26 points.”

Back-to-back P2s, losing out to Hamilton, saw Bottas fall behind his team-mate in the standings but he came back in Baku to take the lead in the standings by one point, that Australian GP fastest lap point.

The Finn was fierce in Azerbaijan demonstrating that he isn’t a wingman, tussling with Hamilton through the opening few corners and winning the battle.

Bottas 2.0 had arrived, and he was willing to fight. Or so it seemed.

Game on heading to Spain; pundits felt this could be the race for Bottas to show that he’s 100% in it, that 2019 is his year.

He took pole position, labelling it one of his best, but when it came down to being wheel-to-wheel with Hamilton (and Sebastian Vettel), he was the one to yield.

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Hamilton pulled seven points clear with his third win of the campaign. A fourth followed in Monaco, the gap up to 17, and the pressure was on Bottas to get it right in Canada and claw some of the deficit back.

Bottas 2.0 reverted to Bottas -2.0, the Bottas of 2018.

Unlike in this year’s previous races, Bottas failed to top a single session and when it really mattered in qualifying he made a mistake that left him 0.861s off the pace and down in sixth place.

A day later and Bottas’ lacklustre race weekend, at least by Mercedes’ standards, continued as he struggled to pass first Nico Hulkenberg and then Daniel Ricciardo, losing valuable time.

He was fourth when news broke that Vettel had a five-second time penalty for an unsafe return to the track while trying to fend off Hamilton in the battle for the win. But with Hamilton P2, he took advantage of Vettel’s penalty while Bottas crossed the line in fourth and stayed in fourth.

The gap in the championship went up to 29 points, Hamilton’s successive wins to three, and the number of races since Bottas last won, up to four.

But while an advantage of 29 points can be overturned, a gap of only 23 points – what it would have been without Vettel’s penalty – would be a tad easier.

Or at least it would, if Bottas hadn’t seemingly lost his mojo.

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It takes a lot to fight Hamilton, both on the track and in the mind games. It is according to Bottas’ predecessor Nico Rosberg exhausting, so much so he quit F1 after finally beating Hamilton to a World title.

Bottas showed signs of that tiredness in Montreal where he had no fight, it was as if he had capitulated to Hamilton before the weekend had even begun given that the Brit was after his seventh Canadian GP win.

It leaves one wondering if this year’s title fight is already all over for Bottas…

It is if Mr 2.0 doesn’t make a speedy return in France.

Michelle Foster

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‘Bottas needs to drive a bit more at the edge’

With the points gap between himself and Lewis Hamilton on the rise, former F1 driver Mika Salo believes Valtteri Bottas needs to drive closer to the “edge.”

Bottas had a disappointing weekend in Montreal last time out.

The Finn qualified sixth and could only make up two places in the 70-lap grand prix.

As such he scored just 12 points, plus an extra one for fastest lap, while his team-mate and title rival Hamilton bagged the 25 for the win.

Having last won back in Baku while Hamilton has added three on the trot to his tally, Bottas trails his team-mate by 29 points.

Salo wasn’t impressed with Bottas’ driving in Canada and reckons the early season Bottas 2.0 needs to make a comeback.

GPBlog reports him having told Finland’s C More broadcaster: “He did not get past the slower cars and his pace was never good.

“It even seemed like he was saving the tyres. He drove so easily.

“That’s now two pretty bad losses to Hamilton in a row, in Monaco and Canada.

“The points different is going up.

“Yes, I think he needs to start driving a bit more at the edge.”

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Bottas: Still no talks about 2020

With at least two drivers waiting in the wings for his Mercedes seat, Valtteri Bottas has revealed he has yet to enter talks with Mercedes about 2020.

Last year when Bottas re-signed with the team, he put pen to paper on a one-year deal with an option for next season.

That option has yet to be taken up, in fact Toto Wolff hasn’t even begun speaking to him about 2020.

“There’s still nothing to talk about with the team or anyone else,” GPFans reports Bottas as having told C More.

“We are at the same stage as we were when the season started. There is no word mentioned about next year.

“It’s the situation right now.”

Bottas 2.0 with his new beard and porridge for breakfast has claimed two race wins already this season but trails team-mate Lewis Hamilton by 17 points in the standings as the Brit has four wins on the board.

Asked about Bottas’ future with the team, Mercedes motorsport boss Wolff replied: “There’s no news on that.

“Valtteri has been driving very well and it has been quite unbelievable to see how he has improved his performances since last year.

“It’s important now that he keeps his current level so that we can start discussing the future.”

Mercedes reserve driver Esteban Ocon is waiting in the wings for a 2020 F1 drive while George Russell, currently racing with Williams, also remains a part of the Mercedes set-up.

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‘Not a huge difference’ with new PU says Bottas

Valtteri Bottas said he couldn’t feel a “huge difference” with the updated Mercedes power unit, but could tell it was an improvement.

The Silver Arrows introduced the new engine for the Canadian Grand Prix, and while Lewis Hamilton topped the opening practice session, it was Ferrari who took a one-two finish in FP2.

Both Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc have cast doubt over their chances of taking the fight to Mercedes around Montreal, but Bottas is looking forward to what he thinks will be a close battle.

“The car feels strong, but we have some work to do on the balance; the car became more difficult to drive with the changes we made for FP2, but it also felt a little quicker,” the Finn told reporters.

“So we need to review if there’s anything we could have done better for FP2 and what we’re going to do for tomorrow.

“It’s nice to have a new engine with a bit more power; it’s not a huge difference, but you can feel it, and it’s a really good feeling. The car seemed strong on both long and short runs, but Ferrari was very quick on the straights, so I expect it to be a very close fight tomorrow.

“But I like this track and I’m confident, so I’m looking forward to qualifying.”

A fuel pressure issue brought FP1 to a premature end for Bottas, but it didn’t dampen his mood as he delved further into why he loves the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve.

“I really enjoyed today, it was good fun out there,” revealed Bottas.  “This track is always very dusty at the beginning and keeps improving, so you need to find the grip step by step.

“That’s what I like about this circuit because it’s different every time you go out and you always need to discover it again, get a feel for it and learn.”

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