‘Bit slow Bottas used as a pawn by Mercedes’

Michelle Foster
Valtteri Bottas Mercedes

Valtteri Bottas Mercedes

Complaining that his strategy was “too defensive” in Bahrain, Jenson Button feels the biggest problem Valtteri Bottas faced was his own pace, which was a “bit off”.

Bottas came home in a lonely third place in Sunday night’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, scoring 16 points as he added an extra one for the fastest lap of the race.

The Finn, though, wasn’t happy with his race.

Bottas had hoped for a longer middle, one that could have potentially put him closer to Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen in the closing laps of the grand prix.

Mercedes, despite telling him that he would be staying out longer, pitted him just two laps after his team-mate.

“From my side the strategy was too much on the defensive side instead of attacking, which I was quite surprised of,” Bottas said.

“We will review everything, but I feel we were more passive than aggressive with the strategy in the end. I wanted to stay out longer in the middle stint on fresher tyres but it wouldn’t have made much difference in the end.”

But while Button concedes Bottas was used as a “pawn” on Sunday night, he says the Finn set himself up for that given his lack of pace compared to Hamilton.

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“I think his pace compared to Lewis was a little bit off,” Button told Sky Sports F1.

“That always hurts when you see your team-mate pulling off into the distance.

“And he was also used as a little bit of a pawn during the race so Max would follow his lead during pit stops.

“It’s a little bit of tricky one [for him] because you know he’s going to be on the back foot in terms of the pit stops.

“But also the pace wasn’t quite there.

“It’s not been an easy race for him and I don’t think it fills him full of confidence for race two.

“That was the first time he’s looked unhappy with the way things have gone for the team.”

Fellow former driver turned Sky Sports commentator Paul di Resta reckons by speaking out about how he feels his race was compromised by Mercedes’ strategy, Bottas has put “pressure” on the team to give him a better hand.

“Bottas was very vocal about it,” he said. “That’s going to put pressure on the team.”

Bottas said earlier this year that he was planning on being more selfish and demanding about what he needs to win grands prix.

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