Valtteri Bottas bemoans his ‘most difficult weekend’ of faltering season

Jon Wilde
Valtteri Bottas walks away from his Alfa Romeo. Zandvoort September 2022.

Valtteri Bottas walks away from his Alfa Romeo after retiring from the Dutch Grand Prix. Zandvoort September 2022.

Valtteri Bottas admitted it had been “probably the most difficult weekend” of his season following retirement from the Dutch Grand Prix.

The Finn had been a regular points-scorer in the opening third of the campaign, but Alfa Romeo’s form has dropped away alarmingly.

The race at Zandvoort became the team’s sixth in succession without a top-10 finish as Bottas was forced to pull over with an engine problem at the end of the pits straight on lap 55 of 72, triggering a Safety Car period that shaped the climax of the grand prix and victory for Max Verstappen.

At the time of his exit, Bottas had not been on course to score points anyway, running line astern with his colleague Zhou Guanyu who ended up 16th of the 18 finishers.

It had also been a disappointing qualifying session for the Finn, who had gone 148 races without a Q1 elimination, dating back through all of his time at Mercedes and back to his Williams days but has now had two in a row.

Asked during his post-race interview with whether this had been one of his toughest race weekends of the year, the 33-year-old replied: “Absolutely. I think probably the most difficult weekend in terms of the pace in qualifying. At least in the race it was a bit more promising, but a weekend to learn from.

“It was a difficult race but at least the pace seemed a bit better than yesterday, so at least I could battle in the midfield which was good.”

About his retirement, he added: “[It was] really unfortunate – just on the start-finish straight I started to lose power, had a bit of flames, a bit of very concerning sounds from the engine before it turned off, so let’s see.”

Zhou said the Safety Car period for Bottas’ breakdown had actually compromised his race, with little option but to join the cars around him in making a pit-stop.

“It was quite tough, to be honest, particularly at the end of the race because we got caught out with quite a lot of blue flags and with the late Safety Car, we had not much tyres left and had to put on used softs,” said the Chinese driver.

“And from last, trying to move up at Zandvoort is not like, for example, Spa (in terms of ability to overtake), so it was a pretty tough weekend for the whole team.

“We all have to work hand and try to improve for Monza. There have been a few races now where we have been struggling, which is quite clear, and we have to keep working and try to bring the car back to where we were earlier in the season.”