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Bottas avoided clash in "brutal" Ricciardo pass - Mercedes

Motor Sport 2018-04-16 10:54:00

Some clever driving from Valtteri Bottas was all that avoided a race-changing clash with Daniel Ricciardo in the closing stages of the Chinese GP, according to Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.

Ricciardo stormed to an unlikely win in China, making the most of a set fresh of soft-compound rubber in the closing stages thanks to a strategic gamble from his Red Bull crew.

It was a spectacular charge too, with impressive moves on Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, and Sebastian Vettel before an inch-perfect play for the lead down the inside of Bottas into Turn 6 with 12 laps to go.

Having conceded that it was an impressive drive from off-contract Ricciardo, Wolff was keen to point out that the "brutal" pass for the lead only worked thanks to some clever cooperation from Bottas.

Had the Finn not left just enough room, Wolff is convinced they would have collided given how committed Ricciardo was to the corner.

"Daniel is one of the very good drivers, and he proved it again," said Wolff. "He was very efficient, he was able to wait for his opportunity, he was aggressive when it was needed. Overall [it was] a very good race for him.

"Maybe the manoeuvre on Valtteri was a bit... brutal. But it proved to work. He had Valtteri helping him with that, to avoid a collision. But that is racing and great."

Wolff added that Bottas' performance in the race was the silver lining on a difficult weekend for the Mercedes crew.

"The only thing I see positive is Valtteri's race," he said. "That was really awesome. No mistakes. Unlucky with the Safety Car.

"Even with the Ricciardo overtake, if Valtteri wouldn't have opened the door last minute Ricciardo would have taken him out.

"He's the only one who was without fault [in the race]."

According to Bottas, the door being left ajar was a combination of not wanting to compromise the exit of Turn 6, and a sense of inevitability that Ricciardo was going to get by anyway.

"He was really closing in quickly and a big pace difference," said the Finn.

"They had a really strong car today and on top of that fresh tyres at that point so seeing the pace he disappeared afterwards, it think it was only a matter of time.

"By that situation I was going to defend into Turn 6, so it was a bit of a compromise how extreme you go with it, you go very extreme, he's definitely going to get you at the exit if he can choose the line behind you.

"He tends to find space from inside even while you defend and it was just a matter of time."