Missing out on a podium finish in Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix felt “painful” for Mercedes Formula 1 driver Valtteri Bottas as he was left to settle for fourth place at the checkered flag.
Bottas qualified third in Monaco, just 0.045 seconds off Ferrari pole-sitter Kimi Raikkonen, and held position through the opening stint of the race.
Red Bull opted to bring fourth-placed Max Verstappen into the pits early, forcing Mercedes to stop Bottas just one lap later in order to cover the Dutchman, only for this to allow Daniel Ricciardo – who had been P5 – to jump ahead after staying out longer, recording quick laps on the ultra-soft tire.
Bottas had a brief chance to grab third late on when Ricciardo made a mistake and touched the wall, but ultimately finished fourth, narrowly missing out on a maiden Monaco podium.
“Missing out on a first Monaco podium is painful. It’s been a long week and we’ve worked so hard, so it’s disappointing to miss out,” Bottas said.
“I was stuck in the traffic while Daniel was running in free air and ultimately, that cost me a place on the podium. It’s been a really tough weekend for us and we’ve just been missing pace.”
With Red Bull tag-teaming Bottas by splitting its drivers’ strategies, Mercedes F1 chief Toto Wolff felt after the race there was no way to retain third.
“We had exactly two choices: lose against Max or lose against Daniel,” Wolff said, as quoted by the official F1 website.
“When Max pitted Valtteri complained that his tires were going off, so we needed to protect him against an undercut from Max – and hope that Daniel would not be able to extract more performance in that period.
“Actually Daniel did some amazing laps – similar to what Sebastian [Vettel] did in the front. So at that stage of the race it was already clear that we would lose against one of the Red Bulls.”
Monaco saw Ferrari seal its first one-two finish in seven years and re-take the lead of the constructors’ championship from Mercedes, with Bottas’ teammate, Lewis Hamilton, taking seventh.
“Ferrari were very strong this weekend and for whatever reason, their car seems easier to operate, so we have work to do,” Bottas said.
“We have to learn from this, but there’s a long year ahead. Hopefully this will be our worst weekend this season. Canada should be a different story.”