Valtteri Bottas saw his hopes of taking a maiden Formula 1 victory in Bahrain on Sunday fade as tire pressure issues limited the Finn to third place at the checkered flag.
Bottas scored his first pole position in F1 on Saturday in qualifying, edging out Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by 0.023 seconds with his best lap.
Bottas retained his lead through the first stint of the race, but was unable to pull away as he struggled to manage his rear tires, creating a train of cars behind.
Bottas lost the lead after a slow pit stop, and ultimately had to let Hamilton pass him twice on-track to allow the Briton a shot at winning the race, leaving the ex-Williams driver third come the finish.
“It was a really tricky race for me, struggling with the pace all through the race. I think the first stint we found a bit of an issue with the tire pressures, that explains the rear end struggle,” Bottas said.
“But after that I was just rear limited and out of the tools on the steering wheel. It was just oversteering all through the race and that’s where the pace was slow, which is a real shame because for sure the target for today was a lot higher.”
Bottas admitted that he was disappointed to have been asked to let Hamilton pass him on two occasions in the race, but conceded that it was for the good of the team as it tried – and failed – to stop Sebastian Vettel winning for Ferrari.
“I’m a racing driver, so being told to let your teammate through is the worst thing you can ear. But there was potential for Lewis to catch Sebastian, so I understand the team’s decision,” Bottas said.
“Personally it’s hard, but what I have to find out is why we didn’t have the pace today.