Pole position and the first-stint lead looked to be the foundation for a comfortable victory for Bottas. But a big chunk of debris picked up on the second lap gave him floor damage and meant he was in trouble.
Team-mate Hamilton was on the cusp of overcutting him when the timing of the VSC made it easy for him to stop and retain a lead he earlier picked up when Bottas pitted. The only positive was that Verstappen’s retirement at least handed him back second place after the Red Bull driver had passed him.
Valtteri Bottas says he didn’t have enough time to avoid the piece of debris that damaged his floor and hurt his prospects at Formula 1’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Bottas led away from pole position but struck a large chunk of debris on the second lap.
The Finn kept Max Verstappen at bay through the pit stop phase but was poised to relinquish the lead to the later-stopping Lewis Hamilton until a Virtual Safety Car period aided his team-mate’s chances.
Bottas ran wide at Rivazza and slipped to third position but returned to second spot when Verstappen suffered a suspected tyre failure at high speed and was forced to retire.
Mercedes later communicated a photo of the debris that it removed from Bottas’ car when he and Hamilton stopped for Soft tyres under the Verstappen-instigated Safety Car period.
“I think that made quite a big effect today,” said Bottas.
“The start was quite good, that was one of the main things to get right today.
“On Lap 2, suddenly, out of Turn 7, there was debris I didn’t have time to avoid it, I saw it and aimed to get it under the middle of the car, to, at least, avoid damaging the tyres.
“But that cost me some damage that made the car quite tricky to drive.
“I was really pushing hard to try and avoid Max getting through. I had to push over all my limits and that led to mistakes. Unlucky.”
Bottas now trails Hamilton by 85 points in the Drivers’ Championship.
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F1 2020 NEXT RACE
|12:00 - 13:30||Free practice 1|
|16:00 - 17:30||Free practice 2|
|12:00 - 13:00||Free practice 3|
|15:10 - 17:10||Race|