30 November 2015
F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Bottas 'got the green light to go...'
Valtteri Bottas insists that he reacted to the Williams team's signal to rejoin after his first pit-stop, unaware that Jenson Button's McLaren was fast approaching...
Valtteri Bottas and Jenson Button may have disagreed over the same piece of pit-lane tarmac in Abu Dhabi, but agreed on one thing: their clash ruined what could have been a decent result.
While the Briton was hoping to improve on the twelfth place he started from, Bottas was looking for enough points to remain ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in the drivers' championship, but struggled from the start, despite lining up on the outside of row three of the grid.
While sixth place already put him at a disadvantage in his battle with the Ferrari driver, Bottas conceded further ground on the opening lap, but was recovering after a short but strong stint on the supersoft Pirelli before disaster happened as he changed onto the more durable prime tyre.
“The first lap wasn't great, as I always seemed to be on the wrong line of cars going into every corner…,” he reflected, “I dropped a few places and after that, in the first pit stop, everything went wrong…”
Having taken on his fresh rubber, Bottas exited his pit stall, only to be confronted by the sight of Button's McLaren coming in to the adjacent spot. The Briton had been hidden behind another car as it came down pit-lane, and Bottas insisted that he didn't get a good view of the approaching danger until it was too late. The ensuing contact was worse for the Finn, who lost a vast chunk of front wing and, unable to return to his pit for repairs, had to complete an entire lap before getting attention.
“I got the green light from the team to go, so I went on the right-hand side of the pit lane,” he explained, “Obviously, our side view, from the cockpit, is very limited and, before I realised it, there was a McLaren pulling into its box and it was too late to avoid it. Then I had to come in the next lap for a new front wing and that ruined my race.”
What ruined it even more was the stewards' decision that Williams was at fault for the release, adding a five-second penalty to his race time that saw him confirmed in an unrepresentative 13th place – one behind Button – at the chequered flag.
With just a one-point lead to defend over Raikkonen, the Ferrari driver's third place ensured that the two Finns swapped place in the final championship standings, with Bottas dropping to fifth overall, just ahead of Williams team-mate Felipe Massa.
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