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GP Week : Issue 184
After stunning the Formula One paddock with a surprise P3 in qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix, sunday’s race was always going to be an exercise in damage control for Valtteri Bottas, but finishing a lowly 14th was never part of the game plan. In comparison to Nico Hulkenberg’s impressive pole for Williams at Brazil three years ago (also a wet qualifying session), Bottas only dropped two more spots than Hulkenberg’s eventual ninth place at Interlagos. In this respect, Valtteri’s effort – on paper at least – can’t be derided too much, although the man himself would undoubtedly have wanted more from his Sunday efforts. In his post-qualifying comments Bottas was obviously delighted with his starting position, but understandably circumspect looking ahead to the race given the worst of Montreal’s inclement weather had passed. “I think the fact is the car in the dry doesn’t belong to P3 at the moment,” mused Bottas. “If [the race is] dry, for sure it’s going to be difficult; it’s not going to be easy so let’s see... A good start is important and basically after that is about trying to keep as many quick cars behind me as possible because the pace in the dry is still not quite enough for a top ten. So it's going to be tricky.” Bottas’ race was lost in the first few laps: he was mugged at the start by an uncharacteristically fast- starting Mark Webber and then lost crucial time scrapping with the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso. The Finn was then forced into some ultra-defensive tactics to keep Alonso at bay, but it was always going to be a lost cause – the net result giving Sebastian Vettel even more breathing space and forcing the Williams driver into the back half of the points. On lap six, Bottas was coming under increasingly pressure from the Force India of Adrian Sutil. Seizing a chance at the chicane, Sutil placed the Force India alongside the Williams of Bottas, but lack of room obliged both drivers to back off, with the torque- transfer sending Sutil into a spin. While Bottas escaped unscathed he lost even more valuable time, dropping a further seven places after the first round of pit stops. From lap 22, he was effectively racing for a finish outside the points. The retirement of both Saubers would be of little consolation to Williams given that Toro Rosso appear to be getting on top of their tyre degradation issues. Having a car that slow in the dry but easy on its tyres might be one thing, but at the moment Williams have neither. What they do have in Pastor Maldonado is a driver still prone to race errors, such as running into the back of Adrian Sutil and damaging his front wing. Williams will no doubt be praying for a wet home grand prix at Silverstone at the end of the month. Valtteri all at sea 29 GPWEEK.com // 29 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> CANADA