Valtteri Bottas birthday trip to Spa-Francorchamps ended in an early DNF as the spinning Williams of Nicholas Latifi collected the Alfa Romeo driver and sent him into the gravel on the very first lap of the race…
On Saturday, the Finnish driver ended a 148-strong streak of Q2 appearances as he was eliminated from qualifying in P20 having sacrificed his Saturday to give a tow to team mate Zhou Guanyu, but back-of-grid penalties for other drivers meant Bottas would start 13th on the grid, despite his 20 places of grid penalties.
And on Sunday Bottas’ race ended early, on Lap 1, when Latifi spun having run wide and tagged the Alfa Romeo driver, sending him into the gravel at the edge of Turn 7 – bringing out the Safety Car.
“It’s disappointing, of course, when there’s such a mixed grid there could have been opportunities today,” said Bottas. “But yes, I just had to avoid a collision – wrong place at the wrong time, I guess.
“I just got stuck on the gravel so couldn’t move the car out. Tried to go forward, tried to reverse, but it was stuck.”
“I saw Latifi spin towards the left,” explained the Finn. “And all I could do was take evasive action to avoid a collision. Unfortunately, I spun on the grass and ended up stuck in the gravel. It’s not the birthday present I wanted, but hopefully I can still have some fun tonight before we turn our focus on next week.”
‘Wrong place at the wrong time’: Bottas laments ‘disappointing’ early DNF in Spa
Despite neither Alfa Romeo finishing in the points for the fifth weekend running, Team Principal Frederic Vasseur was encouraged by the team’s pace ahead of this weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort.
“The team did a good job, given the circumstances; unfortunately, that was not enough for a point today. We knew that, taking power unit and gearbox penalties with both cars, we’d have a complicated weekend, but we can take heart from the pace we showed.
“Both drivers had a good shot at the points [but] unfortunately, Valtteri’s race was over immediately, and Zhou got stuck in [Alex] Albon’s DRS train when in sight of the points. These things happen, we’ll build on the pace and work hard to make sure we can maximise our results already in Zandvoort.”
Zhou Guanyu: ‘The pace was there’ early on at Spa
Zhou, who finished 14th having shrugged off his P18 start, said: “The pace was there, especially at the beginning, we were having quite good pace going off the field, but then it was quite tricky – especially in the last stint because going on softs to finish the race, we wanted to have a bit more of a gap and not in a DRS train.
“This is the weekend we already decided quite early to sacrifice regarding the engine, so hopefully everything will be OK after that on the PU side and maybe from the next race onwards we could start where we qualify, and hopefully that will maybe give us a better shot of a points finish.”