Heading into the closing stages of Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix, Mercedes were on course to convert their front-row lock-out into a second ever one-two in Budapest – a result that seemed highly unlikely as they looked third-best on Friday. But while Lewis Hamilton romped onwards to victory, Valtteri Bottas’s race quickly unravelled almost within sight of the chequered flag…
On aging rubber late in the Grand Prix, Bottas – who had pitted early to cover off Kimi Raikkonen’s early pit stop – came under attack from Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari, with the duo dramatically colliding as the German outgunned the Finn around the outside of Turn 2.
That was deemed a racing incident by the stewards, but three laps later, nursing heavy damage to his front wing, Bottas then understeered into the side of Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull as he tried to cling onto fourth place – an incident that ultimately earnt the Finn a trip to the stewards, a 10-second penalty and two penalty points on his licence.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said Bottas’s slide from second to an ultimate fifth place made the Silver Arrows' day ‘bitter sweet’, adding that the Finn had ‘deserved a podium’ and had been ‘a sensational wingman’ to Lewis Hamilton - but none of that was enough to console his 28-year-old driver.
“Well first of all, [to be called] wingman hurts,” a deflated Bottas told Sky Sports. “Second of all, I don’t’ see any positives in this race for me.
“I wanted a better result, we thought in theory we should have been able to do one-stop. We had to stop earlier than we wanted because of Kimi, we had to cover him. With 20 laps to go, everything was feeling OK and we could control the pace and my position.
“But then the rear tyres started to die, I tried to defend the best I could, and as aggressive as I could, but it ended up being a mess in the end with a broken front wing and everything.”