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Bottas reveals 'only explanation' of Saudi horror show

Valtteri Bottas came home a lapped last in Jeddah, nearly one minute behind the next car on the road.

Valtteri Bottas believes damage sustained early in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is the "only explanation" behind his Formula 1 horror show. The Alfa Romeo driver started 14th on the grid, but endured a torrid race in Jeddah, struggling for grip and pace on all three tyres compounds, made three pitstops and came home as the only car lapped, in 18th place, more than one minute down on 17th placed Lando Norris. And the Finn is sure that only damage sustained in the opening laps can explain his lack of pace, on a weekend teammate Zhou Guanyu held a comfortable advantage.

Bottas explains poor Saudi showing

On the opening lap, contact between Pierre Gasly and Oscar Piastri broke the latter's front-wing, causing debris to fly, which was also hit by Piastri's McLaren teammate Lando Norris. Bottas believes he also ran over this debris, compromising his race. "I'm suspecting I run over quite a big piece of debris on lap one, in-between Turns Two and Four," the 10-time Grand Prix winner explained to media, including RacingNews365 , after his worst classified finish, when he was actually running at the flag, since 15th at the 2021 Mexico City Grand Prix. "I could really feel it under the floor, so perhaps there was some damage - that's my only explanation at the moment."

More serious than Saturday

After qualifying, Bottas complained of just an overall lack of grip from C43 machine, but added credence to the debris strike theory by saying Sunday's issue felt a bit more serious. "Something wasn't right, it felt like a long Sunday," he explained. "It seemed a bit more serious [than Saturday]. I'm keen to find out why it is and why we were so much slower than we thought." Pressed to pick out any positives from the weekend, Bottas selected Alfa's single lap pace, which he felt was the same when compared to the gap to Q3. "The gap to Q3 was like in Bahrain, so at least on qualifying pace, we didn't go backwards," he added. "That's about it, now I just need to figure everything out from this weekend and then hopefully go better in Australia."

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