Valtteri Bottas made no secret of his disappointment on Sunday after being forced to miss the season-opening Australian Grand Prix due to a back injury.
During qualifying for the race on Saturday, Bottas sustained a minor tear to the annular part of a disc in his lower back, warranting a visit to hospital in Melbourne.
The Finn’s condition was monitored in the hours leading up to the start in Australia, but the FIA medical delegate made a final call that he would not be able to race on Sunday.
“I have done a lot of work since the issue with my back came in qualifying to get myself ready, starting treatment immediately, so the news that I couldn’t race today was obviously disappointing but I respect the decision,” Bottas said after the race.
“I now have two weeks until the next race to receive further treatment to ensure I will be back to full fitness and even stronger in Malaysia. I’m very eager to get back in the car and race because the FW37 is looking competitive and I’m confident we can fight for podiums.”
Bottas had been due to start the race from sixth place for Williams, but his DNS left teammate Felipe Massa fighting alone against Ferrari in the race to complete the podium behind the Mercedes drivers.
Massa eventually had to settle for fourth place after losing out to Sebastian Vettel in the one and only round of pit stops, but Williams’ head of vehicle development Rob Smedley was pleased not to have lost too much ground on the Italian team in Melbourne.
“It’s always difficult to compete with only 50% of your armoury with Valtteri having to miss the race, so today was about damage limitation in the constructors’ championship and we have managed to come away only a few points behind Ferrari which is a decent result,” Smedley said.
“The team worked very well as a unit all weekend; the pitstop was good and so was the work on the pitwall. We made a decision to pit early because Vettel was a bit quicker behind us, but unfortunately this didn’t pay off for us.
“We are in a really competitive battle with the teams around us so this race is a marker for the rest of the season. We need to continue improving the car and getting maximum performance from what is a strong package.”