2019 rules: whoever leads controls the race, says Bottas

Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates his second position on the podium.
© XPB 

Valtteri Bottas is heading back to Baku this weekend, a venue that he believes owes him a break this time around.

It was in last year's Azerbaijan Grand Prix that Bottas was denied victory by a late puncture while leading the race.

And Bottas also wants to get back to the top of this year's drivers championship, after he was ousted from the top spot by Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton's victory in Shanghai.

Bottas started the race from pole but immediately lost the lead to Hamilton into the first corner.

“I’m just disappointed I didn’t win because obviously when you start from pole there’s only one goal for the race,” Bottas admitted.

"Being in the front I could have done the job," he insisted. “I know myself, but it was all about the start, so that’s why it was disappointing."

The result puts him six points behind the Briton in the drivers championship heading into the fourth race of the season.

“For sure I would prefer to still be leading but that’s the situation now," he said. “That’s life, that’s how it goes sometimes, but it’s early in the season and I’m only a few points behind in the championship.

"If I keep performing well I can turn it around, so that’s going to be the goal for Baku.”

Qualifying well and holding position at the start will be even more important this weekend on the tight, twisting Baku City Circuit.

Bottas said that even with the latest rules changes designed to improve on-track action, the cars in front still enjoyed a big advantage.

"Even being three or four seconds behind you're sliding more, which overheats the tyres more, and then it's more difficult," he explained.

Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes AMG F1 W10.

"But that's how F1 has been for a long time," he shrugged. "Whoever is in the lead can control it a little bit and always has it easier in a way."

However that's not to say that the latest regulations haven't had an effect on car handling in the opening races of the 2019 season.

"It's a little bit better," Bottas acknowledged. "Last year you could feel a bit more turbulence, a bit more movement in the car.

"It is a bit more stable, but you lose a bit of grip and downforce," he continued. "Now the cars have more downforce than they did last year. Obviously there's no air to make the wings work, you lose grip, that's how it goes."

"It's a good thing that the car's not doing anything funny when you're following. It's just a general loss of downforce.

"The more downforce you have, the more percentage of downforce you lose when you're behind another car.

"I haven't been in the other cars so I don't know how it feels. But for sure it feels like we have a good level of downforce, because we've been really strong in the corners."

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