Bottas says Verstappen's pit call made it easier for him to dive in too
The Finn didn't think to not stop.
Valtteri Bottas terms F1 Turkish GP as one of his best races from how it went from start to finish as he adds more on start and strategy calls.
After his last win in 2020 Russian GP, it has been a long wait for Mercedes' Bottas for his next victory to come at 2021 Turkish GP. It was worth the wait, through, where he was dominant, taking the chequered flag by over 14s from Red Bull's Max Verstappen.
It was a solid start from Bottas. He then made the right call to pit - aided by Verstappen's decision. He passed Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and kept the Dutchman long behind to secure not just the 25 points, but also one extra for the fastest lap on the last lap.
Post-race, Bottas noted it to be one of his best races, especially in terms of how he handled it from start to end. "I think it was one of my best races in terms of how it went from beginning to the end," he said. "To some people it could have looked easy but it’s far from that in these conditions. You can't do any mistakes and it’s quite easy to do mistakes in the conditions and when it’s drying, when there is only one dry line.
"Just everything went smoothly which I’m very glad [about]. The car has been good in any conditions this weekend and that makes things easier but I could really control; it and I would say the key thing today was the tyre management and not to kill the tyres at the beginning of the stint and trying to play the long game. I would say in the beginning of the race, the first few laps, Verstappen was definitely trying to keep up.
"He put pressure on me too but then I think he also realised that he needed to manage the tyres but if I’m honest, at the end of the race, in the second stint, I was surprised by the pace difference, so I could really focus on my own thing and in any case always I was just looking ahead and focusing on my thing and trying to avoid mistakes," summed up Bottas, who praised the grip from the surface even in greasy conditions.
In terms of the strategy calls, Bottas said it was pretty much straightforward. The Finn never thought of doing the race on the one set as he started to struggle. The decision to pit came at the right time to cover off Verstappen. The early stop eventually allowed the graining period to end early and he could push on towards the end.
"I think strategy worked well," said Bottas. "Obviously Max stopping triggered us stopping but I think it was the right time. If I look at the whole race, I think that was the right point. It was not clear at any point if it’s going to be dry [tyres] or not at some point, so we needed to go pretty long in the first stint and it was good.
"From my side I didn’t consider going through the whole race with one set, because at some point I started to feel a bit of vibration from the tyres and they were like slicks and eventually you would get the canvas, so I always had it in my mind that we would be stopping at some point, but I don’t know about the team yet, what they were thinking about. But I’m glad we stopped. Obviously Max stopped first and we covered him.
"And then when I was gaining to Charles, he was still on his first set of tyres. He was really quick on the parts that were a bit drier and I was quicker on the parts that were a bit wetter because I had fresh tyres and just when I was closing onto him my tyres started to grain quite a bit, but I was still catching him obviously and then obviously my tyres grained to the point that they were slicks again and then they were fine.
"There was a bit of a pace difference and he had a couple of lock-ups and when I got him he had a bit of a snap in the last corner and that helped," summed up Bottas, who received heaps of praise from not only Toto Wolff, but also Lewis Hamilton. The former termed it as a 10 out 10, which is vital not just for constructors' but also drivers' championship.
"What he delivered was unbelievable," said Wolff to written media. "He started with the easiness from pole, pulled away, was the quickest man on track, best in terms of tyre management, kept it always under control and scored thee fastest lap. It was a 10 out of 10 and can play a vital role in the constructors' championship and also supporting Lewis because in Turkey, only Valtteri's performance prevented Max to score eight more points."
An earlier pit stop would have helped the Brit eventually.
[Image courtesy: Daimler Media AG] [Note: This story was written on FormulaRapida.net]