Valtteri Bottas admitted it had been “probably the most difficult weekend” of his season after retiring from the Dutch Grand Prix.
The Finn had been a regular points-scorer in the first third of the campaign, but Alfa Romeo’s form has dropped alarmingly.
The race at Zandvoort became the team’s sixth in a row without finishing in the top 10, as Bottas was forced to stop with an engine problem at the end of the pit lane on lap 55 of 72, triggering a Safety Car period that shaped the climax of the grand prix and victory for Max Verstappen.
At the time of his departure, Bottas hadn’t been on his way to scoring points anyway, running on the stern line with colleague Zhou Guanyu, who finished 16th of the 18 finalists.
It had also been a disappointing qualifying session for the Finn, who had run 148 races without a Q1 elimination, from all his time at Mercedes and right up to his days at Williams, but has now had two in a row.
Asked during his post-race interview with Formula1.com if this had been one of his toughest race weekends of the year, the 33-year-old replied: “Absolutely. I think it will probably be the most difficult weekend in terms of pace in qualifying. At least in the race it was a little more promising, but a weekend to learn.
“It was a tough race, but at least the pace seemed a bit better than yesterday, so at least I was able to fight in the midfield, which was good.”
Valtteri is out: his cars stop in the final stretch and that’s the end of his career ?
The pace car called as deputies worked to recover the wrecked car.#DutchGP
— Alfa Romeo F1 ORLEN Team (@alfaromeoorlen) September 4, 2022
On his retirement, he added: “[It was] really unlucky, right on the start and finish straight I started losing power, had some flames, a bit of very worrying noise from the engine before it died, so let’s see.
Zhou said the Safety Car period for Bottas’s breakdown had actually compromised his career, with little choice but to join the surrounding cars for a pit stop.
“To be honest, it was quite difficult, particularly at the end of the race because we were surprised by a lot of blue flags and with the late Safety Car, we didn’t have many tires left and we had to put on used softs,” said the Chinese driver.
“And lastly, trying to move up in Zandvoort is not like, say, Spa (in terms of overtaking ability), so it was quite a difficult weekend for the whole team.
“We all have to work hand in hand and try to improve for Monza. There have been some races now where we have been struggling, which is pretty clear, and we have to keep working and try to get the car back to where we were at the beginning of the season.”