Valtteri Bottas says “strange clutch behaviour” that he has never experienced before was to blame for his sluggish getaway at the start of Formula 1’s Spanish Grand Prix.

Like in Baku, Bottas, who convincingly beat Lewis Hamilton to pole position, was the slower of the two Mercedes drivers off the line as Hamilton snatched the lead of the race at Turn 1.

It proved crucial to the final outcome of the race, with Hamilton pulling clear into a comfortable lead and ultimately securing a convincing victory in Spain.

“It was pretty tight but I lost it at the start,” Bottas explained.

“There was a strange behaviour with the clutch, it was biting and releasing, biting and releasing, which I never felt before, so I lost it there.

“It’s honestly very annoying today. I lost it at the start and, looking in the mirror I can say it’s not my fault.

“I had some issues with the clutch, some vibrations, which I’ve never had before. That’s why I got away slow. I’m keen to find out what happened.”

Bottas conceded that it was “game over” following the start with Hamilton able to control proceedings as he reclaimed the lead of the drivers’ championship from the Finn.

“It’s quite a lot easier in the front, you can control the pace and when you’re behind you’re trying to keep up, and dirty air at this kind of track you’re sliding around,” Bottas said.

“So, I was expecting the race to be kind of decided into the first corner. Even though you try for the opportunities, it was game over.”

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