‘The tiniest error here costs a lot’ – Bottas on the FP2 shunt that ended his day
The track had only just gone green following Max Verstappen’s big crash when the TV cameras cut to Valtteri Bottas’s Mercedes bouncing off the barriers in an even bigger shunt. Friday in Austria was a day on which the track made some big name drivers pay the price for minor mistakes – but despite having to take an early bath, Bottas was adamant he wouldn’t have had it any other way…
The Finn, third-quickest in FP1, lost control at the left-handed Turn 6 halfway through the second free practice session, going into the barriers nose first and causing significant damage to his W10. A massive 23G impact was recorded - though Bottas was able to walk away unharmed.
“I just lost the rear end suddenly. Unexpected,” he explained. “I made a correction but it was a bit too late. This afternoon is a bit more windy and the track is very penalising on making mistakes. It can happen I guess.”
I prefer to be penalised for mistakes. It makes it a little bit more exciting. That’s how it should be.
Asked if the mistake-to-punishment ratio was thrown into even more sharp focus by the fact that less than a week ago the drivers were racing around a Circuit Paul Ricard surrounded by expansive asphalt run-off zones, Bottas replied:
“It makes a difference, yeah. I have to say, even though I crashed, I prefer to be penalised for mistakes. It makes it a little bit more exciting. That’s how it should be. Definitely the tiniest error will cost a lot here with the aggressive kerbs and run-offs and everything. I think that’s the way to go.”
Bottas’s day had begun with a slow start to FP1 after an issue was found on his power unit. His mechanics quickly switched it out for an older-spec version before sending the Finn on his way. “That compromised us a little bit,” explained Bottas, “but I still found a clear direction on the car set-up where to go. We made pretty big changes for FP2 and felt a lot better until I had the shunt. Before that it was feeling quite nice…”
The unique layout of the Spielberg track, combined with the high temperatures, has led to much speculation that Ferrari could be the team to beat. So did Bottas, the lights-to flag winner here in 2017, go along with that view?
“Difficult to say,” he replied. “I need to analyse everything from practice. I reckon it’s going to be close. Red Bull are not far away – it should be fun in qualifying…”