Bottas says he "lost" the Brazilian GP at first corner
A disappointed Valtteri Bottas admitted he lost the Brazilian Grand Prix by getting a poor start and letting eventual winner Sebastian Vettel beat him into the first corner.
The Mercedes driver had claimed his third pole position of the season, and his first front-row start in 10 races, at Interlagos, but was passed by Vettel into Turn 1.
Bottas came close to retaking the lead after stopping one lap earlier than the Ferrari, but Vettel rejoined ahead and kept Bottas at arm's length for the rest of the grand prix.
Having not won since July's Austrian Grand Prix, the last race he started from pole, Bottas said it was "unfortunate" but "obvious" that he "lost the race" at the start.
"For me the issue was the initial wheelspin," he explained. "As soon as I started to release the clutch I broke the traction.
"I had wheelspin and a poor getaway, I was trying to cover the inside, but looking in mirror I couldn't see Seb anywhere. I was guessing he would come inside, and he did."
Bottas was adamant he had the pace to keep Vettel behind him had he held the lead into the first corner.
"Our pace and our car was pretty similar today, there was not much pace difference," he said. "Being first out of Turn 1 would have been quite a different race, but if and if…"
He conceded he now needs "some miracles" to snatch second in the championship, having fallen 22 points behind Vettel with just the Abu Dhabi race remaining.
Vettel thought he'd blown crucial chance
Vettel agreed it was crucial to make the pass into Turn 1 because Ferrari and Mercedes had "more or less the same pace" for the entire race.
He said he thought he had thrown away his chance to take the lead at the first corner.
"Initially I had a very good launch and thought I got this, then maybe I was a bit too greedy, spinning up the wheels a little bit and losing some momentum on Valtteri," he said.
"Then I looked over and saw he was still struggling, and gained a bit on the second phase to get me momentum into first corner.
"I knew I had to go for it, there was a little bit of a gap, and I went for it. It was important."
Vettel and Bottas circulated a couple of seconds apart and the race winner claimed he was "pretty much flat out all the time" to stay ahead.
He added: "We had less straight line speed than Mercedes this weekend.
"It was tough seeing him in my mirrors close, especially in the first and third sectors, so I had to nail the second sector each time."
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