For much of the 1000th race weekend, Valtteri Bottas was the fastest Mercedes driver, and the Finn promptly took pole position on Saturday ahead of team mate Lewis Hamilton. But wheelspin at the start of the race meant Bottas was slow away and Hamilton got the jump on him - and Bottas reckons those crucial few seconds lost him the race…
“I lost it at the start, obviously,” said the Finn, who ultimately finished second. “Otherwise the car was the car was feeling OK.
“The pace was similar. In the first stint in the dirty air I couldn’t follow. It was a shame about the start, I got a bit of wheelspin when I went on the white line, the start/finish line that was just after my box. I lost it there.”
Bottas kept pace with Hamilton throughout the race and at one point closed to within two seconds during the pit stop phase – but he ultimately wasn’t able to get close enough to launch a proper attack.
The result meant Bottas, who won the season-opening Australian Grand Prix and finished second in Bahrain, relinquishes the championship lead to Chinese Grand Prix race winner Hamilton as Mercedes secured their third successive one-two.
“It’s just small details, but it’s still early days in the season and things are looking good,” added Bottas. “I’m really proud for the team, we’ve done three perfect weekends so far, so that’s very good.”
Bottas and Hamilton currently hold the longest active finishing streak, having now seen the chequered flag in 15 successive races, while Mercedes become the first team to score three straight one-two finishes to open a season since Williams achieved the feat in 1992.