Fernando Alonso (ESP) Aston Martin F1 Team AMR23 spins ahead of Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Alfa Romeo F1 Team C43 at the start of the race. 18.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 22, Las Vegas Grand Prix, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, Race Day
Valtteri Bottas revealed how his Las Vegas Grand Prix was scuppered beyond the start after sustaining diffuser damage when he was hit from behind by Sergio Perez.
The Finn recorded his second Q3 appearance in three rounds in qualifying, but his hopes of adding to Alfa Romeo’s points tally were ended by contact at the first turn.
Fernando Alonso’s dive down the inside of Turn 1 saw him be pitched into a spin on the low-grip surface, prompting a concertina effect that left Bottas with nowhere to go. An unsighted Perez then arrived on the scene and thumped the back of the Alfa Romeo.
Although he continued back to the pits to replace his front wing, Bottas disclosed that his performance was hampered by the irreparable damage to the rear of his C45 car.
“The main thing was the hit from behind, it damaged my diffuser quite a lot,” he said. “I saw it after the race and there was some quite significant pieces missing, so that explains a lot.”
He added: “I think that, from behind, it was Perez.”
With Bottas nursing a wounded car and team-mate Zhou Guanyu struggling to make progress from the back, Alfa Romeo remains in ninth place in the Constructors’ standings.
Asked how frustrating it was to squander a promising starting berth through circumstances outside of his control, Bottas answered: “It is, of course. I think we had a good opportunity today, the car felt quite nice here, but for me, the race pace remains unknown, with the damage I had. But what can you do? That’s how, sometimes, it goes.”
Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Alfa Romeo F1 Team C43 and Fernando Alonso (ESP) Aston Martin F1 Team AMR23 at the start of the race. 18.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 22, Las Vegas Grand Prix, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, Race Day.
Along with Alonso, Carlos Sainz was another driver to be caught out by the slippery track at the opening corner, which resulted in the Ferrari sliding into Lewis Hamilton’s path.
The Spaniard later attributed the chaos at the start to several parade cars breaking down before the race and spilling oil onto the inside line of the start-finish straight.
“I don’t know, I started on the outside and, for me, I was, anyway, expecting low grip, and it was, extremely low grip, but it’s a good point, it could be something there,” Bottas said.
Bottas’ weekend had also been compromised by illness: “It was not great. I got this stomach bug a couple of days ago, and it kept getting worse until last night.
“Yesterday was the worst, today it was actually better, but it was not the most fun weekend for me, in the end, with what happened in the race.”
Despite being unable to battle other cars on an equal footing throughout the 50-lap encounter, Bottas believes the inaugural race at the Las Vegas Strip Circuit proved it warrants a place on the Formula 1 calendar.
“I always thought it was going to be a good track for racing, so I think today showed it,” he highlighted. “It would have been nice to be part of it, but I was more of a sitting duck myself. I think it deserves a place in the calendar.”
Pressed on if he thought there were any improvements needed for next year, Bottas replied: “I don’t think so. I think that, as it is, for.”
Keyword: Bottas: Vegas GP foiled by diffuser damage from Turn 1 hit