Valtteri Bottas said he avoided looking at the news after a difficult Sakhir Grand Prix, adding that his bad run has been going since Imola.
With Bottas’ Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton absent for the Sakhir Grand Prix after returning a positive COVID-19 test, Bottas was presented with the opportunity to prove his worth alongside Hamilton’s stand-in, Mercedes junior George Russell.
But despite putting his W11 on pole, albeit by only 0.026s over Russell, the Briton got the jump on Bottas in to Turn 1 at the Sakhir GP and would slowly pull away at the front.
A huge mix-up in the pits from Mercedes would cost both Bottas and Russell dearly, and although Bottas was sent back out on his used hard tyres, even his race engineer told him he should have done better than his finishing position of P8.
There was plenty intrigue surrounding Russell and how he would perform in what was effectively an audition for a future Mercedes drive, and after enjoying a stronger weekend on a whole than Bottas, the Finn received a fair bit of criticism. Even Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said the pair needed a private conversation after Bottas’ performance in Sakhir.
So, Bottas stayed clear of social media and the news following his difficult race.
“Obviously on Sunday I got to deal with all the media and when the driver has a bad race you have to deal with it and I did,” he told reporters ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
“I’ve learned from the past that sometimes the best thing to do is to block everything, not to look at anything. So, after Sunday I haven’t looked at any single headline, any single news article or social media, so that’s the way sometimes you have to do and it works for me.
“I feel, again, full of energy for the new weekend, I feel that I’m in a place that I can perform and that’s the main thing. Every driver has his own way to re-set and get back up when you have a bad moment.”
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) December 10, 2020
Bottas admitted though that since Imola he has not been performing anywhere near his best.
“All I can say is that since Imola it has been a run of really bad luck and I can’t even remember the last time I was in the podium,” he said.
“I feel that I’ve not really been performing in the last few races, but of course I still try, I try to extract everything I can.
“There are many factors in this sport, sometimes it’s luck, sometimes it’s what you do yourself in and outside the car. All I can say is that I can do much better than if you look at the last four races, on average. I feel that I need to do better.
“In these kind of moments, when you feel that you don’t perform at 100 per cent for many different races, for different reasons, for sure there’s a lot to learn about.
“It’s no secret that battling with Lewis for years and years, I know how much it takes out of me, every single weekend trying to get 100 per cent out of me and keep pushing.
“Sometimes I get close, sometimes I managed to beat him. Having fought four years in a row, a defeat for the Championship title is tough to accept. For sure it has an effect and when you know that the title is lost, it’s not quite the same, even though you should always give 100 per cent and that’s what I try.
“We all know how mentally sensitive this sport is, so I think there’s lots to learn from this year, again, and hopefully I can use it for the future.”
While both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships are indeed wrapped up for 2020 in Hamilton and Mercedes’ favour respectively, Bottas heads in to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 16 points ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, so P2 isn’t yet wrapped up.
However, the Mercedes W11 is the fastest Formula 1 car in history, and as such Bottas said only a P2 finish in the standings would be acceptable.
“Being in this team, as a Mercedes driver, the team deserves to be one-two, with the car that we have this year so, of course, that is the target,” he said.