Bottas: 'I've been missing that, so more of this!'

Race winner Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates on the podium.
© XPB 

Valtteri Bottas was delighted to be back in winning form again for the first time since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in April.

Bottas was able to swoop around the slow-starting Sebastian Vettel at the start of Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix to claim the lead into turn 1.

"Obviously Valtteri not blinking an eyelid when Seb stalled and getting into the lead was the decisive moment of the race," commented Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff. "Lewis in third was a little bit a rock in a hard place."

After that, while he briefly surrendered the spot for nine laps during the pit stops to his Mercedes team mate, Bottas never looked under serious threat at Suzuka.

"I enjoyed it today, I’ve been missing that," he beamed after the finish. "So more of this!

“It feels good, I’m very happy, definitely,” he continued. “Just really a perfect day, with a perfect start.

“We knew coming into the race that we would have a good race pace like we saw every Sunday before, even though Ferrari has beaten us in the qualifying

"So I’m glad we managed to get in the lead, because it’s so different when you’re in the lead," he added. “You can really control the pace and manage the tyres and everything."

Bottas went for a two stop strategy, with Lewis Hamilton initially trying for a one-stop approach. In the end, two stops proved to be the right approach on Sunday.

"We knew that one or two stops were possible and there’s not a massive difference between two of them," he explained.

“I wasn’t quite sure if Lewis was going to stop or not," he admitted. "But he was on the medium tyre and there was no way he was going to get to the end on that tyre. It’s just that I had some concerns about that."

During the race itself, Hamilton certainly appeared agitated about the team radio by the race strategy the team had selected for him, which ultimately failed to put him ahead of Sebastian Vettel for a 1-2 finish.

"We should have at least got a 1-2 today I think but strategy wasn’t optimum," he complained to Sky Sports F1.

“With better guidance, I think I probably could have [beaten Vettel]," Hamilton continued. "They said when they put the tyre on they would be going to a two-stop because the degradation is higher.

Race winner Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes AMG F1 W10 celebrates in parc ferme with team mate Lewis Hamilton

"I thought about staying out, but by that time I had already pushed so much to close the gap to Seb," he added. "There was no way I was going to make it. Maybe if I had from the beginning said to them just eke it out, just see if you can manage it, I could have driven differently to help [the tyres] to the end.

"We will go and sit and talk to the engineers and strategists. I think today could have been better. There have been multiple scenarios during the year where that has been the case.

"But nevertheless Valtteri did a good job," adding that he was happy to be part of Mercedes' successful sixth consecutive constructors championship.

Mercedes principal Toto Wolff admitted that switching Hamilton to a two-stop strategy had been a tricky call for the team to make.

"There were lots of tricky calls this race," Wolff said. "I think that pitting Lewis again at the end was a 50-50 call.

"We could have left him out and asked the drivers to change position to give the victory result back and maybe protected against Sebastian," he continued. "But on the other side, maybe not protected against Sebastian

"So pitting and giving him a new set of tyres was the decision that was being taken and at that stage it felt like the right decision."

"What we did is protect the lead with Valtteri and took the pace out of his race once Sebastian pitted for his second stop.

"We are not playing team-mates against each other with race strategy," Wolff added. "It was always clear he would go towards Valtteri."

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