Mercedes Formula 1 driver Valtteri Bottas was left disappointed after dropping from third to fifth place in the closing stages of Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix, losing more ground in the drivers’ championship in the process.
Bottas had been sitting third after the sole expected round of pit stops was completed at Spa, only for a safety car period to prompt the leaders to come in for a second change of tires.
The Finn struggled to get heat into his fresh soft Pirellis, causing him to lose traction out of La Source on the restart and miss out on some straight-line speed for the Kemmel Straight.
As a result, both Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen were able to fly past, dropping Bottas to fifth where he remained to the end of the race.
“Today’s race and result were a big disappointment. It’s been an all-around difficult weekend for me,” Bottas conceded after the race.
“It would have been nice to at least be on the podium and score good points for us as a team. After the Safety Car restart I was on the soft tires, but the guys who overtook me were on the ultra-softs. I was on the back foot, struggled with grip and could not fight them.
“In the race the softs are working well for us, but during a Safety Car restart there’s always a risk that other guys might have softer compounds. In a normal race we would have had an optimal tire strategy.
“This has been the most difficult weekend for me, so I need to learn a lot from it because I wasn’t quick enough.
“I need to analyze my mistakes quickly, and then hopefully come back stronger next week in Monza.”
Bottas now trails Sebastian Vettel by 41 points at the top of the drivers’ championship standings, the biggest the gap has been since June’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.