Valtteri Bottas is enjoying purple form, returning to the points for Alfa Romeo again at the Miami Grand Prix and continuing his goalscoring record every time he saw the checkered flag. But while seventh place in Florida was a solid result, for the second straight race the Finn felt he was leaving some points on the table.
Last time out at Imola, a slow pit stop cost Bottas the chance to chase down George Russell’s Mercedes – and it was the Englishman who again proved to be a thorn in Miami’s side. Bottas ran fifth for much of the race, comfortably keeping the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Russell at bay.
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But the late Safety Car reversed his gap with his former team-mate – and gave the man who replaced him at Mercedes some fresh rubber to attack on, with Russell the only one of the three to fit new tyres.
“We were penalized by the timing of the safety car,” Bottas said after the race. “Managing the gap on Lewis and P5 would have been possible, but once the race was neutralized the gap disappeared and George was on fresh tires behind us, so keeping that spot would have been difficult.”
Valtteri Bottas: P5 at Miami GP “would have been possible” without Safety Car
While post-Safety Car Bottas may have struggled to keep Russell at bay, so great was the gap between his old hard tires and the fresh medium tires of the Mercedes man that he might have to be successful in keeping Hamilton behind. But the Finn was not helped with a moment in the last corner of lap 49 of 57, where he rode the marbles, ran wide and brushed the barriers, allowing Mercedes both to pass and to demote Bottas to his ultimate P7 finishing position. .
“I was trying to brake late to defend my position, I went slightly past the braking point and unfortunately the nature of the track here means that if you go off the line a bit and sink into the dirt you left and you hit the wall,” he explained. “I was lucky that nothing broke on the car and I was able to continue.”
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With just a handful of laps to go and no fresh rubber at his disposal, Bottas did well to hold on to seventh place, and it shows the progress Alfa Romeo has made this year that team boss Fred Vasseur has made. said he was almost “a bit disappointed” with the result.
The disappointment was even more justified on the other side of the garage as Zhou Guanyu was forced into early retirement due to a water leak. He had managed to make up places at the start and was in 14th place when the team called him back to the pits.
“It’s frustrating, of course, but it’s part of racing,” Zhou said. “My short race was not bad, I was three places ahead of my start when I retired and I thought the car was really good.
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Although Zhou has failed to score points since the season-opening race, he has been close – finishing P11 in Saudi Arabia and Australia, and says he just needs to “put everything together throughout the weekend” to retrieve the car. where it deserves to be.