Valtteri Bottas felt that he could been a part of the battle for podium positions in a thrilling climax to the Hungarian Grand Prix had it not been for a circumstances that took him out of a leading position earlier in the race.
The Finn made a brilliant start, using the 'karting line' around the outside of turn one to slot in behind polesitter Nico Rosberg but, along with the German, Red bull's Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso missed the opportunity to pit presented by an accident for Marcus Ericsson.
To compound Bottas' woe, his pit-stop was not the slickest ever produced by the Williams team and, having rejoined down the order, the decision to fit Pirelli's medium compound tyre proved frustrating as he struggled for performance.
“Today there was definitely the possibility to do better as a team, but things started to go wrong after the first safety car,” the Finn confirmed, “Just before it, I was still running P2 and was a bit unlucky at the point of the safety car as, when I got the radio call, I was already past the pits and didn't have time to come in.
“Then I think that the stop was not perfect, as there were a few cars that got through at the point, so I was far away [from the lead]. On the dry tyres, the warm-up took ages - every lap was getting better and better and better - and once the tyres started to work, it was always too late.”
With the downpour that necessitated taking the start on Pirelli's intermediate tyre having removed the need to run both slick compounds, it was something of a surprise to see Bottas and team-mate Felipe Massa shod with the harder medium tyre at his second stop – something the Finn admitted as he reflected on an eventual eighth place.
“I think it was definitely [a mistake not to go onto the softs at the end of the race],” he conceded, “It would have been better to go with the option but, from all the data we got from Friday, there was not a big difference with the tyres, and we thought, with the medium, maybe we could run a bit longer. But, with the cooler temperatures and the tyre pressures that we had, it just didn't work like I expected. On the final stint with options, it was a different feeling - the tyre was then actually working [but], by then, it was too late.
“I was, at some point, thinking we could maybe go to the end [on the mediums] because the tyre just wasn't working and, for the first ten laps, it was like new. Then it started to get better and better and better, but the tyre wear just got more and more and there was quite a big deg for the last few laps, so we had to stop.”
With the third stop dropping him back from P5, Bottas was effectively out of the hunt for a podium, but that did not stop him scrapping for position as he caught up to Vettel in the closing stages.
“I got to try in turn one and turn two, but I was a bit too far away,” he explained, “I have to say he protected his position very well and he also managed to get a bit better exit out of the final corner, even though I had better tyres. It was close and maybe there would have been another opportunity one lap later or something.
“If we had got everything perfect, we could have been close [to the podium battle], but things maybe didn't come to our side. Again, it's a race we need to learn from. But we knew that this was [the worst circuit] for us and we still got some points. Obviously it was not perfect but, looking at it like that, I think the rest of the season should be nice. We'll have some more good times ahead this season and, if we keep improving, we'll be alright. Spa and Monza should be good places for us to get really good points.”