Valtteri Bottas has conceded that fortune played its part in him completing a hat-trick of Masters of F3 wins for ART Grand Prix at the weekend, but also pointed out that he had been on the pace from very start.
The Finn benefited from team-mate - and reigning Masters title holder - Jules Bianchi picking up a penalty after qualifying on pole, but made the most of the opportunity presented to him by leading from start to finish around the seaside Zandvoort circuit.
Bottas instantly pulled out a two-second lead on second-placed Mika Maki and, from there, controlled the event to virtually replicate Bianchi's success at Zolder last year and Nico Hulkenberg's at the same circuit the year before.
“I was the second fastest in the practice session, which means the car was fast as soon as it hit the track, but we kept up the good work and improved quite a lot through both qualifying sessions," he reflected, having become the first Finn to win the Masters title, "I was just three-hundredths of a second shy of Jules' pole position and I was satisfied with this result for my first appearance in the Masters.
"When Jules got penalised, I was a bit lucky to inherit pole position, even though it was not good for the team. I made a cautious start, then pushed like hell to open up a gap to Mika. I knew it was the key for the win, but I also knew the key was to avoid the gravel trap!"
Having emulated team-mate Bianchi in winning the Masters crown, Bottas now wants to copy another element of the Frenchman's debut season in international F3.
"The car was just perfect with the set-up that the team used, the tyre pressure was high and it helped me push as hard as I wanted to right at the beginning of the race," he concluded, "The win is really nice and I'm glad to give this reward to a great team. Now I want to make it happen as soon as possible in the F3 Euroseries.”
Bianchi, for his part, admitted that he didn't think he deserved to have his hopes dented in such a way before the final had even started.
“I have to admit I did not understand the penalty - it was a shock and I didn't see a video to prove me wrong!" he sighed, "The dream of becoming the first driver to win two Masters in a row was over as it is impossible to get close to another car in the fast curves because you lose so much downforce when you are in the slipstream. I was stuck behind [Stefano] Coletti all race long, even though I was much faster.
"But that's racing. The overall result is a great one for ART Grand Prix and that's the most important thing. With a 1-2 in qualifying and a win [in the race], we beat them all fair and square! On a personal note, I will try to fight back in the [Euroseries] championship as soon as the Norisring.”