Valtteri Bottas says he is 'mad' at himself after hitting the wall in Australian GP
Error cost Williams driver a potential maiden podium finish
By William Esler
Last Updated: 16/03/14 1:36pm
The Williams driver was in flying form during the opening stages in Melbourne as he recovered from a five-place grid penalty following a gearbox change which saw him start 15th.
However, as he closed in on the rear of Alonso's Ferrari, Bottas drifted wide and clipped the wall on the outside of Turn Ten - something Sky F1's Anthony Davidson felt may have been caused by running in the dirty air of the F14 T - which broke his right-rear wheel, forcing him to limp back to the pits for an unscheduled stop and arguably costing him a podium finish.
"I haven't really seen the result to know how far away they [the podium finishers] are, but yeah I am quite mad at myself for the mistake," Bottas told Sky Sports F1.
"I am not happy about that, but I guess I just need to learn from it and I am pretty sure I am not going to make that kind of mistake again. Apart from that the race was okay and we had good pace."
In impressive fashion, the 24-year-old fought back from the mistake to take sixth place, eventually closing to within seven seconds of Alonso once again. That would become fifth-place when Daniel Ricciardo was excluded from the results for exceeding the fuel flow limit off 100kg/h.
"I was just trying recover and make up for my mistake as best I could, but we have to see how much we lost, but I tried my best," he added.
"For the team we now have nearly double the points we had last year so they have done such a good job over the winter and it is going to be a good season. I really want to thank everyone at the factory and also at [engine suppliers] Mercedes. Everyone is working really hard and it is nice to see."
Whilst the on-track overtakes may not have excited Bottas, he did impress Williams Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams.
"Valtteri is such a safe pair of hands, he is so cool and collected and I think he overtook more than 20 cars during the race today which was phenomenal," she told Simon Lazenby after the race.
"But every time you see him coming up behind someone else, you were just hoping that he made a clean pass and he did."
Despite Felipe Massa retiring at the first corner after being rammed by the out-of-control Caterham of Kamui Kobayashi, the ten points Williams picked up courtesy of Bottas is double what they managed during the whole of 2013. Williams, understandably, is delighted with the turnaround.
"It was fantastic," she beamed. "We entered the weekend with a lot of high hopes and there was a lot of expectation on us from the media as well, but we were really trying to dampen that a bit and not get anyone's hopes up too high.
"But particularly after qualifying it was really disappointing for everyone - last season if we had got two cars in the top ten you wouldn't have thought we'd be disappointed - but coming into the race today we were hoping that both cars would get some strong points. It was so disappointing for Felipe to be knocked out at the first corner, but Valtteri drove such an amazing race today."
However, the reversal in form was not the work of a winter, but instead part of a long-term rebuilding plan implemented at the Grove team.
"We have done so much work not just over the winter, but the last 12 months," Williams revealed.
"When we realised where we were last year we had to make a lot of changes across all of the business and one of the first of those was to augment the talent we have on the engineering side and the first of those was Pat [Symonds] as our Chief Technical Officer.
"Obviously we brought the Mercedes engine in as well and we got Felipe Massa into our driver line-up which is great - there has been a lot of work and I hope we get reward for that this season."
Kobayashi escaped punishment for the collision with Massa after the stewards decided "the incident was caused by a serious technical failure completely outside the control of the driver." Sky F1's Davidson revealed the Japanese driver told him he only had front brakes with a KERS failure the suspected cause of the first-corner collision.