To say that Valtteri Bottas has been unlucky at Mercedes is quite an understatement. The Fin who is moving to Alfa Romeo in 2022, would have wanted to at least finish his final Mercedes season on a high. But while Bottas has had the same amount of poles this season as his teammate, his results on Sunday were a whole different story.
A pattern of bad luck resulting in crashes, punctures, and reliability issues showed itself again in the race in Qatar. Many speculated on the reason for Bottas’ retirement from the race. But it has now been revealed that the real reason for his retirement was an engine problem.
According to Motorsport, Bottas’ car showed a fuel system problem on Sunday. This issue started at the beginning of the race and then later reappeared, leading to his retirement. Mercedes got down to the bottom of the problem a few days later and they’ll replace the malfunctioning fuel pump.
Crucially for Mercedes, replacing this part of the engine doesn’t result in a penalty.
The only thing that stands between Mercedes and their eight straight championships are two good race results. And considering the proximity of the rival, the Silver Arrows need Bottas to be at his best, and for him to do so, he needs his car to be at its best.
Valtteri Bottas will be key in Hamilton and Mercedes’ fight with their rivals
The gap between Mercedes and Red Bull is a mere five points, while the gap between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen is only eight.
Yet one of these gaps could be extended, and the other surpassed if Mercedes carry on their recent run of form. The German team has found a pace advantage over their rivals in the recent weeks which has led them towards two much-needed wins for Hamilton.
But considering how their rivals, Red Bull, usually use both their drivers as part of their race strategy, Bottas’ role in Mercedes will be even more important in the last two races.
In fact, Bottas is also in a third-place battle with Sergio Perez, who has caught up with him because of his consistent results. The Mercedes driver has a slender 13 point lead over the Mexican.
So this is all the more reason for Bottas to produce good results in the coming races. Especially as his time at Mercedes is ending, he’d at least want to finish it by helping his team in the biggest title battle of their history.