Valtteri Bottas was disappointed, but philosophical on Sunday after a pit-lane collision with Max Verstappen wrecked his hopes of triumph in the Monaco Grand Prix.
The pair clashed when Red Bull released the Dutchman alongside the Finn’s Mercedes after their pit-stops, Verstappen forcing Bottas to bounce off the barriers.
After a stewards’ investigation, Verstappen was given a five-second penalty that relegated him to fourth in the final classification after he had finished second on the road behind triumphant five-time champion Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes.
“It could have been a lot worse,” was Bottas’s final verdict on an incident that effectively ended Mercedes’ run of season-opening one-two triumphs after five successes.
“My stop was slower than Lewis’s and that’s why we had the incident with Max. For sure it was disappointing, as I had the speed and to finish third is not too satisfying, but it could’ve been worse.”
The man who gained from the crash, four-time champion Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari who was second, said: “It was a tough race to manage and at Monaco something always happens. Max must have had an incredible stop – I saw them (Verstappen and Bottas) touching in the pit lane.”
“It was small margins yesterday (Saturday, when he was beaten to pole by Hamilton) and that made today difficult. Max got me in the pit-lane and left me with no room and then I was stuck behind. It was like a Sunday drive.”
Verstappen attacked and pressed Hamilton throughout the race, at one point lunging inside to attempt a pass, but he was resisted.
He said: “It was shame to have a penalty but I gave it my all today to get by Lewis. I knew he had softer tyres and he was taking it easy after the pit-stop so I was pushing him and started attacking him all the time, but out of the tunnel you can’t get close enough so I tried to put the pressure on.
“In the whole race I was following closely in the dirty air and that is not easy, but I had a fun race and would’ve liked to have a podium.”
Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Pierre Gasly came home fifth and scored a point for clocking the fastest lap of the race.