Valtteri Bottas says that tyre struggles at the back end of the United States Grand Prix cost him a spot on the podium. The Finn was running in third place before being caught by Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen, who were on a different strategy to the Mercedes driver.
Bottas pitted on lap 19 for a set of the soft tyres. Vettel pitted a couple of laps before Bottas for the same tyre, but stopped again on lap 38 for a fresh set of super softs. Verstappen started on the super softs and pitted for the softs, only to return to the pits 15 laps later.
With Bottas struggling on his worn tyres, Vettel and Verstappen got by the 28-year-old prompting him to pit for fresh rubber, as he had a large enough deficit to Esteban Ocon behind. Bottas admitted he did everything he could, but couldn't keep his rivals behind.
"I think all the way until maybe 20 laps to go, it was all OK. The pace seemed to be good," Bottas said. "But the long stint with the soft tyre in the end, the last 10 laps, just the pace was dropping quite a bit. The guys who switched to a two-stop seemed to be having the edge at that point.
"I tried everything I could to defend, but it was too late. Then we had to stop in the end and unfortunately that's it, we couldn't react earlier than that. The problem was in the second stint, we had to manage a lot to make the tyres last. but there was Sebastian ahead of me and Kimi was putting pressure all the time, so I couldn't make enough tyre saving to make the tyres last."
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing