Valtteri Bottas says Mercedes couldn’t run at maximum performance throughout the Austrian Grand Prix due to overheating concerns with its engine which denied it use of its best power modes and forced him into an economy drive.

The Finnish driver claimed the final step on the podium as Mercedes was finally beaten in 2019, failing to win an F1 race for the first time since last year’s Mexican Grand Prix, but Bottas was able to cut into Lewis Hamilton’s championship lead with the British driver down in fifth place.

Bottas says his team were powerless to stop Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen from charging ahead during the Austrian race as he had to settle for a distant third place almost 19 seconds behind at the finish.

“We had to do a big amount of lift and coast and couldn’t actually use any of the better engine modes in the race,” Bottas said. “We were always on safe modes, because of the overheating. It felt like we couldn’t really race today.

“So it was nice to have a good track position and clear track ahead of me. Under the circumstances I’m happy I managed to be on the podium and also I managed to get a few points against Lewis.

“The issues today were actually bigger than we expected. We knew it was going to be difficult and we would have to do some lift and coast but we never expected we’d have to do such big amounts.”

Bottas also feels aerodynamic deficiencies at the Red Bull Ring cost Mercedes performance to see him drop further behind the leading pair as the race wore on.

“On top of that there were the aero losses – we were fully open on everything, so there were quite big losses aero-wise also – but the bigger thing was the engine power and the lift and coast,” he said.

Bottas has closed the F1 championship deficit to 31 points on Hamilton following the Austrian Grand Prix, while Mercedes saw its constructors’ lead trimmed to 135 points over Ferrari.

 

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