Bottas bounced back from a disastrous race at Imola to take pole position and lead the opening stages of Sunday’s third round of the season in Portugal, before he eventually slipped to third having been passed by teammate Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

Bottas was able to close back up to Verstappen once his Hard tyres had got up to temperature following his pit stop before he reported a loss of power that ultimately dashed his hopes of catching the Dutchman.

The Finn dropped five seconds to Verstappen over the course of two laps before Mercedes was able to get the issue back under control, by which time the gap had grown too large to overturn.

“That was unfortunate, because he really caught up well to Max, and then it kind of stabilised at 1.5, 1.6 seconds, but he had more to come at the end of the race,” Wolff told Sky Sports.

“We made a switch change, in order to basically override a sensor that was saying we are running too hot on exhaust temperatures, and we couldn’t override it.

“So the engine went in protection mode and cost him five seconds.”

Wolff - who gave Bottas a message of motivation during the race - believes his driver recovered well from crashing out with Mercedes protege George Russell during a miserable weekend at Imola two weeks ago despite being unable to convert his first pole of the season into victory.

“He will be on top form and he was yesterday,” Wolff said. “You can see where he came from at Imola, that was a write-off weekend and he’s put it on pole and had a very solid race.

“It’s clear that when you are in the front and just kicking a hole in the air, and the car behind you has DRS, that’s very difficult.

“At that moment, Lewis opened up a little bit of a gap, and was gone. But he controlled Max well. We lost the undercut, that was unfortunate, and then we let him down with the engine, that went into a safety mode.

“So all in all, I think like many times, it could have worked for Valtteri. We were pushing hard and continue to support him, and next time we’ll see what he’s capable of doing in Barcelona.”

 

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