Bottas (right) finished third to team mate Hamilton in Monaco, dropping to 17 points behind in the title chase. Picture: REUTERS
Bottas (right) finished third to team mate Hamilton in Monaco, dropping to 17 points behind in the title chase. Picture: REUTERS

Mercedes expect an angry Valtteri Bottas to come back strongly after losing ground to teammate Lewis Hamilton in the Formula One championship in Monaco on Sunday.

The Finn is now 17 points behind the five-times world champion after finishing third in Monaco following a pitlane collision with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen early in the race.

Verstappen was handed a five-second penalty for the unsafe release, a sanction that dropped the Dutchman from second to fourth.

Hamilton won, his fourth victory of the season, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel promoted to second after Verstappen’s drop.

“Valtteri lost a second place, three points, and Mercedes (lost) a one-two,” said team principal Toto Wolff on Sunday evening.

“From Valtteri’s point of view, he will be gutted. He had the pace on the weekend, he could have been on pole in terms of raw speed and today P2 (second) was the minimum I think. And that P2 was taken away from him.”

“The Valtteri of 2019 is going to get out of it stronger,” added the Austrian.

Bottas has still finished on the podium in every race so far this season, with Mercedes taking five successive one-twos until Monaco, and has been a different driver to the man who failed to win anything in 2018.

He has two wins and three second-places, as well as Sunday’s third, which was still his first Monaco Grand Prix podium appearance.

Bottas said his race had been ‘a bit of a Sunday drive’ after the impact with Verstappen left him with a puncture.

After six races, Ferrari trail Mercedes by 118 points in the Constructors’ championship while Vettel, up to third in the drivers’ standings, is 55 points behind Hamilton.

The next race is the Canadian GP on June 9.

SIM RACERS BEAT BMW’S PROS

The two-hour ‘BMW 120 at Le Mans’ on iRacing enjoyed an exciting premiere when over 140 teams, and just short of 300 sim racers from all over the world were in action at the wheel of virtual BMW M8 GTE last weekend.

After 32 laps of racing, victory went to the Williams Esports team with German drivers Laurin Heinrich and Alexander Voss. They were both rewarded with two BMW M Motorsport VIP tickets to the 24 Hours of Le Mans next month.

Their achievement was all the more notable for beating BMW works drivers Philipp Eng and Nick Catsburg, who will compete for BMW Team MTEK in the real Le Mans 24 Hour. They finished the virtual race in 12th place after fighting their way up from 43rd following an off-track penalty.

Eng, who is leading this year’s DTM German touring car championship, was full of praise for iRacing, a subscription-based racing simulation.

“The race was extremely cool for Nicky and me. I would definitely like to take part again next time. The quality of the drivers and teams on iRacing is incredible. It is great fun and I was just as tense as I am in real races.”

Reuters