Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas reckons the 2020 Formula 1 title is “drifting away” after he finished the Spanish Grand Prix in third place behind Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.
Bottas lost ground to both rivals in the title battle – he now lies 43 points behind his team-mate and six behind Verstappen.
His day was made harder by a bad start that left him stuck behind the Racing Point of Lance Stroll during the opening phase of the race in Barcelona.
Having then passed the Canadian with the aid of DRS, Bottas was never able to get onto terms with Verstappen. A point for fastest lap provided some consolation.
Bottas won the first event of the season in Austria last month, but has since watched Hamilton steadily extend his advantage in subsequent races.
“Initial analysis is just a bad start,” Bottas said of his poor first lap in Spain.
“I think the initial getaway from the line was not quite good enough, and also my reaction time could have been a bit better.
“It’s just not the perfect start when it was needed.
“And on this track ,if the guys behind get a tow from you and if you don’t get the tow and if your start is not better, you pay the price, so that’s it.
“[I’m] initially disappointed, of course. It’s far from ideal.
“I have no clue actually what the points’ difference is, but it’s way too big.
“I can see again the championship drifting away.
“We’ll take a couple of days to look at everything and see what went wrong.
“Obviously at this point, [it’s] very disappointing.
“I know I’ll always bounce back, and no doubt in Spa, as always, I’ll be in full mental health, giving everything I have.
“But for now, I just want to be somewhere else than here right now.”
Asked to pinpoint what had gone wrong for him this season, Bottas said he was not able to single out any factor.
“At this moment, I can’t say,” he added. “I had a good start in the first race, and the pace all season, every single race, the pace has been there.
“Qualifying has been super close every single time with Lewis, sometimes he beats me, sometimes I beat him. It’s small margins.
“So, I don’t know the reason for now.
“There were couple of shitty races for me in Silverstone, with bad luck.
“At this point it’s difficult to say. Maybe when time goes on I can say; for now I’ve no answer.
“Apart from the first race, it’s been pretty bad.
“There’s not been a weekend that has gone smoothly and without issue, apart from the first one, so a pretty bad season so far. Obviously, that’s disappointing.
“[It’s] nice to have a break. Hopefully, we still have many more races to go, maybe even up to 10 or something like this. I would hope so. So far, far from ideal.”