Driving with a “hint of anger”, Damon Hill feels Valtteri Bottas finally showed the “fire” we’d all wanted from him at the Italian GP weekend.
Even Mercedes, he says, felt that was the Finn’s “best weekend” ever with the team.
Heading to Monza for the first race weekend after Mercedes announced that 2021 would be his last year racing for the Brackley squad, Bottas had a near perfect weekend.
It probably would have been perfect were it not for an engine penalty that dropped him to the back of the grid.
It could have been higher had been able to pass Sergio Perez, but by that stage of the race he had all of “two laps” of rubber left.
Hill reckons a bit of “anger” finally gave Formula 1 fans a glimpse of the Bottas we’ve all wanted to see.
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 13, 2021
“Ran out of rubber,” was Hill’s assessment on the F1 Nation podcast as to why Bottas got stuck behind Perez.
“I thought he was brilliant on the hard tyre, made really good progress and then on the medium was quick initially and then just… he said I had about another two laps of rubber left in it and I just could not get past Perez and then it was game over for me he said.
“I said to him afterwards have you ever done 19th to third and he said no, not in my career so it is a first for me.
“Praise for Bottas as well, he was on fire all weekend.
“A brilliant, what do I call it, pole lap on Friday to start the sprint race at the front and then ran away with the sprint race. He was brilliant in the sprint race.
“Even Andy Shovlin, their chief engineer, said that was Bottas’ best weekend of 2021 so far but also one of his best weekends for Mercedes as well. Really, really strong.
“I thought there was a hint of anger in his driving when he was out in the first few runs in qualifying, he was really on it, kicking up gravel. He said he overdrove it and made a mistake but that was the fire that I think we wanted to see from Valtteri.
“And once he got his fire up, he showed how fast he really is. But it was all overshadowed because he had to go to the back, and then he went from the back to the front, and nobody really noticed because there was so much other drama.”
Planet F1 verdict
Hamilton pain but Bottas gains for Mercedes at Monza
Mercedes were having a pretty decent weekend at Monza before Lewis Hamilton crashed with Max Verstappen. Valtteri Bottas was still able to reach the podium, however.