(Motorsport-Total.com) – Valtteri Bottas met a user on Instagram at the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi and gave the correct answer the day after by winning the race: “A nice moment”, he radioed immediately after crossing the finish line in the direction of his critics – and unpacked the trademark slogan from Melbourne 2019: “To whom it may concern: Fuck you!” A sentence that doesn’t need translation.
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An audience of millions heard the pit radio in the live TV broadcast. The (presumed) history is not. Because the day before, after the disappointingly clear defeat against Lewis Hamilton, Bottas had posted on Instagram after an explanation for his performance that he can no longer wait for the race: “I have a good feeling and am optimistic!”
In the age of social media trolls, it didn’t take long for a user to pick up this slogan and ridicule it: “Does anyone think you’re there to win? You will be a good boy and do what they tell you , and Lulu [Hamilton] Let’s win as always. “Obviously a reference to Sochi 2018, when Bottas was called back by a Mercedes stall order.
Even before his “verbal finger”, Bottas took the user to his chest online on Saturday and replied: “I don’t care what you believe, friend. I believe it. With your attitude, I would never have had a chance in my career, never . I will not give up!”
Wolff: “Valtteri was overdue”
He gave the rest of the answer on Sunday on the track. “Valtteri was long overdue to win a race,” says Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff. “He was very close in a few qualifying sessions. He was in the lead at Mugello. From that point of view, he deserves this victory because he drove a brilliant race and brought it home really cool.”
For the Sochi specialist (2017 first victory in Formula 1, 2018 only slowed down by stall orders) it did not start as desired. Because the hope of taking the lead from P3 out of the slipstream burst in the braking zone of Turn 2. Bottas was already halfway ahead of Hamilton, but slipped and had to back off.
“I knew that the start would be my first opportunity. But it was a bit affected because a massive bee or something hit my visor right in front of the braking point. I couldn’t really see when to brake. That’s why I braked a little late, “he admits.
And it continued in the same key, because the safety car phase, which lasted until lap 6, theoretically came towards Hamilton, who started on the softer tires. But Bottas didn’t let that unsettle him: “I knew it would be a long race, and with the medium tire I also knew that there would still be opportunities.”
Medium should be enough advantage …
“It was clear to me: Even if I couldn’t get past the start, it wasn’t over. In terms of overall racing time, the medium should be a big advantage at the start, and also in terms of strategy. That’s why I always believed that I could win. “
Bottas followed Hamilton like a shadow until his pit stop on lap 16. It was already clear that his teammate would receive a time penalty. “Of course I was lucky that Lewis got the penalty,” he admits. “But otherwise it was a strong race that gives me a boost in motivation for the next races.”
“Once I was clear, the pace was pretty strong. Even with the hard tire at the end. I had everything under control,” claims Bottas. “At no point was I worried because I knew how many opportunities there would be. Never give up! A good day.”
In the drivers’ championship, he is gaining his very last mini-chance. After ten of 17 races, Bottas is only 44 (instead of 55) points behind Hamilton. That is still a lot of wood and corresponds to a win, a second place and a fastest lap.
Bitter: Hamilton penalty points deleted again
His World Cup chances would have increased suddenly if Hamilton had retained his penalty points (and the associated fear of being suspended). But the FIA commissioners retrospectively revised this decision. According to our expert Marc Surer, the coronavirus remains Hamilton’s toughest title rival.
Photo gallery: Sochi: driver grades from the editorial team
Toto Wolff sees it differently: “Valtteri is still fully in the title race,” he believes. Even Max Verstappen (77 points behind) should not be ignored yet. “I hope,” says the Mercedes team boss, “that neither of our two drivers have to miss a race. Both Lewis and Valtteri can win the World Championship.”
Bottas himself tasted blood again in Sochi anyway. For the time being, he drove away the slowly emerging resignation. “Now I have to try to take the momentum with me,” he says. “I managed to catch up a few points on Lewis. There are a few more races to go. You never know. I will keep pushing and never give up. Then we’ll see that it comes around.”
“I’ve been close so often,” sighs Bottas. “I have the feeling that my racing pace has gotten a lot better this season. It was annoying that it didn’t work out so closely a few times. But now it’s just turned out in my favor – it can’t always go against me So I’m very happy about this win. I think it was well deserved. “