When Valtteri Bottas was asked if his excellent work at the weekend was “bitter-sweet” as he knows he is leaving Mercedes, his response was withering.
“Fastest in qualifying, sprint winner, from last to third, what more do you ask?”, was how he responded to Sky F1 after a topsy-turvy Italian Grand Prix for the Finn.
The debate as to who should partner Lewis Hamilton next year has been one of the main sub-plots in an intriguing 2021 season, but Mercedes opted to promote their junior driver, George Russell, while Bottas will move on to race for Alfa Romeo in 2022.
The nine-time race winner could have been in the conversation for taking his victory tally into double figures at Monza as he had looked quick all weekend.
After qualifying fastest on Friday, he took the chequered flag in Saturday’s sprint but had engine parts changed, demoting him to the back of the field for the race start.
He admitted he was targeting a podium finish from Sunday’s race but managed to execute plenty of overtakes and make his way into the top three come the end of the race – and knows he left nothing on the table at Monza.
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“I think, if I look at the race as a whole, I feel like I definitely gave it all I had and took all the opportunities,” said Bottas.
“I wouldn’t do anything different really and strategy-wise, I think it was a really good call to start on the hard tyres, go long and then, with the fresh mediums, try to do some overtakes.
“The downside was towards the end of the race, the mediums started to drop a bit, then the guys with the hard tyre had a bit of an advantage.
“I did have one go with Perez, but after that the tyre really started to drop and it was more tricky, and knowing he had a penalty I also didn’t want to risk too much.
“I’m happy we could walk away from a weekend like this with so many issues, at least for me, still with more points than Red Bull.
“It’s almost like I had a bit of a responsibility to carry the team today.”
With that last comment, Bottas was referring to the collision between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen that left both drivers in the gravel and the Red Bull driver penalised by the stewards, as Daniel Ricciardo led home Lando Norris for a surprise McLaren 1-2.