Second “damage limitation” amid Hamilton domination

After winning last weekend’s season-opener at the Red Bull Ring, Bottas could only qualify fourth in wet conditions on Saturday after fighting a glazed brake, as Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton took pole position.

By enough time Bottas passed McLaren’s Carlos Sainz for third place early in the race, both Hamilton and Max Verstappen had already pulled a gap that he cannot close through the opening stint.

An extended run on the soft-compound tyres gave Bottas fresher rubber for a late charge, allowing him to pass Verstappen for second with five laps to go.

Bottas eventually crossed the line 13 seconds behind Hamilton, but said he stood little possibility of beating his teammate after his qualifying result.

“Obviously Lewis started from the pole and had a good start,” Bottas said in parc ferme after the race.

“He could really get a grip on the race and there is not as much happening as last weekend.

“But from my side, starting fourth, I do believe today was damage limitation. Still got good points, still leading, so it’s not too bad.

“Yesterday wasn’t ideal, so that’s why I couldn’t get 25 points today.”

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The result means Bottas holds a six-point lead over Hamilton in the standings in front of the third round of the growing season in Hungary next week-end.

Bottas enjoyed a detailed battle with Verstappen for 2nd place late on, with the pair going side-by-side at Turn 4 because the Red Bull driver looked to hold about the position.

Verstappen could hang on across the outside of the corner and force Bottas to back off initially, only for the Finn to obtain the overtake completed one lap later.

“It was a good battle with him,” Bottas said.

I think I had a great deal more pace at the end than him even as we extended the initial stint. Racing closely is definitely good fun.”

Asked if he was leaving Austria feeling content with his championship lead intact, Bottas replied: “I has been more satisfied, but it’s been a not bad first couple of races.

“So I’m looking forward to a few weeks.”