Bottas: 'Worth it' not to give up on Jeddah podium

© XPB 

Valtteri Bottas will no doubt remember his penultimate race with the Mercedes team, for the Finn seized his 67th career podium in F1 only in the final yards of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

In the closing stages of the incident-filled inaugural race in Jeddah, Bottas was locked in a fierce fight with Alpine's Esteban Ocon that concluded on the final lap with an all-out drag race between the pair from the exit of Turn 27 to the chequered flag.

For Bottas, the decisive finale capped a race that meandered not only through Jeddah's fast sweeps but also between red flags, yellow flags, safety cars and some wild on-track actions.

After a strong start in the wake of Lewis Hamilton, Bottas and his Mercedes teammate lost out to Red Bull's Max Verstappen during the first safety car period as the Dutchman remained out on track while his rivals pitted for fresh rubber.

On the successive red-flag restarts, Bottas slipped back to P5 and faced a McLaren barrage for over 20 laps.

He eventually gained the upper hand over Daniel Ricciardo and caught up with Ocon. But fighting the Alpine driver for the final spot on the podium was a tense battle that went down to the wire.

"Obviously everything started with the first red flag: it was a bit unlucky for us – very unlucky for us as a team," explained Bottas. "And then on the restart with the hard tyres we were on the back foot and lost some places."

Bottas admitted to being surprised by Ocon's level of resistance.

"It was a tough race, it was pretty intense," he added. "Esteban had a good race – they were actually surprisingly quick and we could not easily get him.

"But yeah, got him just at the end – just kept pushing and it was worth it today not to give up."

Bottas' podium also nicely contributes to Mercedes' tally in the Constructors' standings, especially as Red Bull's Sergio Perez was an early DNF on Sunday.

"Yeah, a good day for that, and obviously with Lewis and Max now on equal points, it’s going to be a pretty exciting race in Abu Dhabi," said the future Alfa Romeo driver who will enjoy his swansong outing with Mercedes next weekend.

"I feel good," he said. "One more to go with the team. I think it’s going to be emotional, even for a Finn, so looking forward to it."

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