Valtteri Bottas says a lack of opportunities resulted in him turning down the engine on his Mercedes Formula 1 car during a “Sunday drive” at the Belgian Grand Prix.

Bottas ran fourth for much of Sunday’s race at Spa but moved up to third when Sebastian Vettel switched on to a two-stop strategy late on. 

With Mercedes teammate and championship leader Lewis Hamilton well down the road in his pursuit of eventual race-winner Charles Leclerc and Vettel a comfortable margin behind, Bottas and his team opted to save engine mileage.

“Honestly I think it’s my best result, in terms of the feeling and the performance I had, in Spa,” Bottas said.

“It’s normally been one of the most difficult ones for me. In the first stint I was lacking a bit in the end, with tyre drop off but in the second stint I was really strong.

“At the end, close to the flag, we knew we wouldn’t be getting any more opportunities, I was just saving the engine, saving the gearbox - it was a Sunday drive in the end.

“You know, we didn’t get many opportunities along the way, it was nice to pick up one place because we had a better strategy than Sebastian. It was positive, but we were waiting for the opportunities, but there weren’t many.”

After seeing the straight-line speed demonstrated by Ferrari at Spa, Bottas is braced for another tough fight at next weekend’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

“They are going to be quick there, but last year they were quick as well but we managed to make their life difficult,” he said.

“That’s when we got booed on the podium and everything, so we try to do the same again.”

Asked how he coped getting back in the car following the tragic death of Formula 2 driver Anthoine Hubert on Saturday, Bottas replied: “I think when you put the helmet on, there’s not much in your mind. You are really concentrating on the thing you love to do - driving.

“You are focusing on that but, for sure, before and after it’s always on your mind or at the back of your mind you go into the zone where there’s nothing, there are no distractions.”

 

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