Valtteri Bottas has called his second-place finish in the Styrian Grand Prix “damage limitation” after maintaining his lead in the 2020 Formula 1 world championship.

Bottas won the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix to open up an early 13-point buffer over Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton but could only manage fourth on the grid during a wet qualifying session for the second race at the Red Bull Ring, while Hamilton claimed a dominant pole position.

The Finn recovered to second place in the race having battled past McLaren’s Carlos Sainz and successfully pulling off a late move on Max Verstappen, but with Hamilton winning, he has seen his points advantage cut to six.

“Obviously Lewis started from the pole and had a good start,” Bottas said.

“He could really control the race and there was not as much happening as last weekend.

“But from my side, starting fourth, I think today was damage limitation. Still got good points, still leading, so it’s not too bad.

“Yesterday wasn’t ideal, so that’s why I couldn’t get 25 points today.”

Bottas ran longer into the first stint and was able to make the most of being on fresher tyres to catch and pass Verstappen’s Red Bull with just five laps to go. He ultimately finished over 13 seconds behind Hamilton to complete a Mercedes 1-2.

“It was a good battle with him [Verstappen],” Bottas explained.

“I think I had quite a bit more pace at the end than him as we extended the first stint. Racing closely is always good fun.”

Asked if he was pleased to be heading to Hungary with a championship lead, Bottas replied: “I could have been more satisfied, but it’s been a not bad first couple of races. I’m looking forward to next week."

 

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