Bottas hails 'aggressive strategy and solid first race' for Alfa Romeo
Valtteri Bottas was particularly satisfied with his first race of the season with Alfa Romeo, the Finn charging to P8 in Bahrain on the back of a “solid race” and an aggressive strategy.
The result was a turnaround of sorts for team and driver after a lackluster performance in qualifying, in which Bottas and Alfa teammate Zhou Guanyu were both left stuck in Q2.
Starting 12th, Bottas skillfully avoided a bout of commotion after the start, brought about by a clash between Esteban Ocon and Nico Hulkenberg, to clock in P8 at the end of the opening lap.
He lost a spot to Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll thereafter but was among the first drivers to swap his soft tyres for a set of hards, a move intended to avoid the Finn being undercut and which proved successful as he held his own in P8 all the way to the checkered flag.
“I’m pleased, I don’t think there was much more to get today, all the cars ahead of us were clearly much faster unfortunately,” Bottas said after the race.
“For that I’m happy and also being aggressive with the strategy was nice.
“So solid first race. We have a good base car and today shows that yes we can score points with this car. There’s still obviously lots of work to do so we’ll keep working hard.”
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Beyond the aggressive strategy implemented by the Alfa pitwall, Bottas also credited his opening lap as an important component of his race.
“The start was really important, making those places on the opening lap was crucial as the cars around us are very well matched and overtaking is not easy,” he said.
“We went out aggressively, both on track and with our strategy, and it was definitely the right thing to do.
“We also had to be smart and pick our battles, making sure we kept some of our tyres for when we needed it: it turned out to be important at the end, when it got a bit close with [Pierre] Gasly, but in the end we brought it home.”
Unlike Bottas, Zhou was unable to take advantage of the bustle ahead of him to follow his teammate and put himself in the clear.
The Chinese driver remained constrained in the lower tier of the midfield but was called upon by his team in the closing stages of the race to try and snatch the fastest lap of the evening which he successfully did.
There was no bonus point however for Zhou and Alfa as he was running outside of the top ten. However, the effort maliciously deprived Alpine’s Gasly of the single digit reward, and sent a clear signal to the French outfit that Alfa won’t be taking any prisoners this season in F1’s midfield.
“It was also important for Zhou to get the fastest lap right at the end to steal the point from our competition – he did a good job and it shows how well we work as a team,” Bottas added. “P8 was the most we could get tonight and there’s nothing more we could have done.”
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