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Bottas broken?

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26/11/2018

The end of season party atmosphere had clearly passed Valtteri Bottas by, the Finn very, very unhappy after a tough end to his campaign.

Like his countryman, Kimi Raikkonen, Valtteri Bottas gives little away in terms of emotions, not even the occasional bwoah!

However, in the aftermath of yesterday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix it was clear to see that the Mercedes 'number 2' was very unhappy, almost broken.

"I think that race sums up my season pretty well," said the Finn. "Started well but then turns to shit."

Indeed, despite a strong start to the season, which saw four podiums in the first seven races, since the summer break the Finn has only made three further appearances, while his last four outings have seen him finish fifth.

Apart from anything else, surely it is no coincidence that - despite podiums in Russia and Japan - the Finn has not been the same since the infamous "wingman" instruction at Sochi.

"I initially had a lock-up into Turn 5, when Sebastian got close, and then he got DRS and overtook me," he said. "I thought it was purely my mistake - which in the end it was - but the wind suddenly turned around, so for the wind I would've had to brake a bit earlier.

"At the same time, the team could find on the rear-right brake some vibration and some issue, so sometimes the front brakes had to work harder than the rear brakes to compensate and that meant there were sudden lock-ups. THe same thing happened when I went straight and Verstappen got close. So we still need to investigate what was exactly the issue with the brakes."

Referring to the incident with Verstappen which saw the two clash, Bottas said: "It's just racing. We both wanted to gain the position. Yeah, we did touch, I was the one who lost there, as I lost the position and also I had floor damage and we had to do a pitstop also in the end. But for me it was racing."

Fact is, the Finn - seen here receiving the DHL award for most fastest laps of 2018 - looked particularly down yesterday, almost broken. After all, losing out to Verstappen, and then Ricciardo, saw the Dutchman leapfrog him in the standings, meaning he finished the season fifth.

So, from the site that predicted Red Bull partnering with Honda, and Daniel Ricciardo heading to Renault, how about this...

A 'few' races into the season, Robert Kubica says that he doesn't think he will be able to contest the full 2019 calendar. Consequently, Bottas returns to his spiritual home at Grove, while Mercedes tweets an "announce" confirming Esteban Ocon as Lewis' teammate.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Yas Marina, here.

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1. Posted by PlayF1, 27/11/2018 21:16

"Agreed with pretty much all the previous comments.
I'd add 'the horror of realising that You cannot beat your team mate'.

Sure, on your perfect day, when your team mate is having a bad day, then you can do it.
... but the repetitive grinding defeats must surely take their toll.

To finish 5th in the championship, in the title winning car, is a true defeat.
At least 3rd, but ideally 2nd, would do it.
... but 5th???

Sorry VB but Ocon deserves his chance.
You've had yours."

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2. Posted by DBCooper, 27/11/2018 17:34

"@spindoctor - my point exactly. The Nico year was a nightmare for the team. Since then they've decided to bet it all on Lewis and coddle him - just ask Paddy Lowe. I'm not criticising them for that, it's working. Ferrari did the same thing by hiring a washed up but reliable wingman for Vettel. Vettel didn't rise to the occassion (Ferrari couldn't protect him from Lewis) and they're bringing LeClerc in to do to SV what Ricciardo did. Ricciardo, meanwhile, has had it done to him by Verstappen and is running away from Red Bull fast as Vettel did from him. Perez/Ocon? Think Toto Wolff wants parts flying everywhere? In the current era a two car team means a title contender and an assistant akin to those donkeys or ponies they have walk next to the race horses for the race horse to bite if it feels stressed. Lewis and Bottas deliver both championships this way so I just don't think it's fair to criticize Bottas for braying a bit and having big ears."

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3. Posted by Spindoctor, 27/11/2018 17:12

"@DBCooper
Mercedes has built a team to WIN, Lewis' ego is neither here nor there, otherwise you can be sure Nico would never have won a WDC.
"

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4. Posted by DBCooper, 27/11/2018 16:05

"I don't exactly disagree with these observations but I think people make a big mistake viewing VB's (slightly) poor performances as a problem. F1's potential champions are a surprisingly weakminded and fragile club (witness Seb Vettel's implosion) and Lewis is no exception. VB's job is to collect enough points for the constructor championship while making Lewis feel superior and that's very hard to find - most drivers good enough for the former won't accept the latter. Is it hard on him to be a professional loser? Of course. But we all have our jobs to do. Imagine being that poor Angela Cullen lady and the things SHE has to do for the cause. And make no mistake, if they weren't doing their jobs professionally and well, Lewis wouldn't be able to do his. Remember the team dynamic the last time Lewis faced a valid intra-team challenge? Merc has built a team to nurture Lewis's ego and he has returned the favor with total dominance. I wouldn't 'fix' that team on a bet."

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5. Posted by Esteban, 27/11/2018 3:16

"If anything, Ocon at Mercedes will have Verstappen fuming."

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6. Posted by NS Biker, 26/11/2018 21:30

"When Mercedes picked up Bottas to replace Rosberg, it was likely the best move at the time.
He was a star at Williams and should be yet, but even from my side of the TV, it sure looks like he needs to improve his Race-Craft. On at least 3 occasions (2 of them in the last race) his defending move was to go off the racing line into the dust, dirt and marbles. Naturally, this either resulted in a lock-up or running wide through the corner. Simple ... make the overtaking driver go off-line, especially later in the race.
One could wonder what Ricciardo would have done in the Mercedes this year. At least 3 wins, likely more.
My bet, if Kubica has trouble early in the season, look for Ocon to fill the seat. He only wanted a one year deal, not the two that Williams pitched. "

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7. Posted by ClarkwasGod, 26/11/2018 14:48

"I had almost the same thoughts at the end of the race - except that Kubica didn't figure in those - just that Ocon would be swapped for Bottas before the first 2019 GP. Just my gut feeling, after seeing Wolff's expression as he (Bottas) was passed."

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8. Posted by English Tony, 26/11/2018 14:28

"Bottas' use of (or use by) Wolff as his personal manager clearly helped him get the Merc gig however he should still consider himself lucky that he was retained for 2019 before the situation with Ocon became clear.

That said I suspect any driver would have been crushed by Hamilton this season - to the extent that being the 2nd driver at Merc can now be considered something of a poisoned chalice."

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9. Posted by Motorsport-fan, 26/11/2018 12:53

"Bottas has not been bad in qualifying but has left far to many gaps down the inside in the races, needs to be more aggressive in this area.
Probably needs to win the World Championship to be in the car in 2020, so no pressure there then."

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10. Posted by imejl99, 26/11/2018 12:43

"Bottas`s fifth in drivers maybe can make us all appreciate Lewis more, as it suggests that Mercedes are not THAT better this time around, if at all, than Ferrari.
"

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11. Posted by LukeP, 26/11/2018 12:33

"Solid driver - enough to help Merc win the constructors - but has just not performed well enough. Bad luck aside (of which he has certainly had his fair share, looking at you Baku) finishing the season 5th in the championship-winning car is clearly under par.

Great prediction at the end there... wouldn't be surprised if something like this comes around. Problem for Williams though, is that Kubica is bringing a *lot* of money to the team isn't he? Bottas unlikely to do this, so maybe they'll need to get Sirotkin or similar back just to survive?"

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