Bottas seen as 'bit of a soft touch', says Palmer


Former Renault driver Jolyon Palmer says that Valtteri Bottas will come to regret not making a more assertive bid to pass Sebastian Vettel in the final laps of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Mercedes was running in second place on Sunday. He was on a one-stop strategy on medium tyres. Ferrari had originally planned to two-stop, but were forced to change strategies late in the race.

It meant the four-time world champion ran 39 laps on soft tyres. And he was still able to thwart Bottas' attempts to get past.

"I've been in situations like Bottas was in," Palmer told the BBC Sport website this week. "In my case, it might not have been for a grand prix victory!

"But in any situation where a chance presents itself and you don't take it, as a racing driver you can't help but think of the missed opportunity."

Given the lead the pair had over Lewis Hamilton and the rest of the field, Palmer felt it wouldn't have been too risky for Bottas to try.

"He either would have emerged from turn 1 with the lead and the win," he said. "Or he would have gone in too deep and ended up having Vettel slide back underneath him and ultimately finished second.

"At least that way he would know he had given it a go.

"The only way such a move would end in tears is if he was half-hearted and stuck just a nose down the inside. That's where collisions so often happen."

Palmer compared the situation to a key moment in last year's United States Grand Prix when Daniel Ricciardo had muscled his way past Bottas.

"In that race, Ricciardo threw the car down the inside from an unfathomable distance," he recalled. "At the first attempt, the Australian ran off the track and Bottas re-passed.

"But next time Ricciardo made it stick," the Briton continued. "Bottas had the chance to do the same to Vettel in Bahrain.

"Note how few times Ricciardo actually makes contact with another driver, despite his amazing overtaking bravado," Palmer added. "He commits so heavily to his moves that they either come off, or he overshoots the corner too much and loses the place again.

"There's so rarely a half-hearted attempt from him," he said. "I'd say he's the true master of the art."

Palmer explained that Ricciardo's reputation helped unsettle drivers around him. He said it gave the Aussie a psychological advantage in his racing.

"I feel Bottas has the reverse effect in F1 at the moment," he added. "Yes, he's had a few scrapes, most notably with countryman Kimi Raikkonen.

"But he's seen as something of a soft touch in wheel-to-wheel fighting. Drivers are throwing moves down the inside of him that they wouldn't try on Hamilton.

"They know Bottas would rather let them through than risk a crash.

"Bottas is an incredibly talented driver. But if he is to really take the fight to those around him, I feel he needs a bit more bite in the heat of battle."

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