Valtteri Bottas has claimed "there is a lot to understand," about his poor performance at the Malaysian Grand Prix before the next race in Suzuka. Bottas finished in fifth place in Malaysia but was a long way from his teammates pace, coming home a whole 42 seconds behind Lewis Hamilton and was even beaten by title rival Sebastian Vettel who started from the back of the grid.
This has continued a string of weak results for the Finn since the drivers came back from the summer break, showing nothing like his early season form where he was consistently putting in impressive results such as his first pole position in Bahrain, and first wins in Russia and Austria, superbly holding off Sebastian Vettel in both of those races and comfortably outperforming Hamilton.
It is all the more mystifying then why he has lost so much relative pace compared to Hamilton, with Bottas saying on his race in Sepang: "Today was difficult. I was trying everything I can, I was giving it all I had, but I was lacking pace and I was sliding around, the start was definitely the best part of the day. It was really good, I could actually attack a little bit and fight for positions.
"But not long after that I just started to drop down and couldn't keep up with the others. In the first stint I had quite a lot of understeer, so I was struggling with the balance. The story of the race was managing the tyre temperatures. If I tried harder, then I started to overheat the tyre and slide even more, so I had to manage everything and that's why I was so slow."
"We need to analyse the race because the upgrade package should have been quite a step forward in terms of downforce, but I couldn't really see it, there are still a lot of things we need to try to understand, we need to learn from today. For Japan, we need to make sure we choose all the right bits for the car, and hopefully we will see some cooler temperatures."
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing