He worked his way past Magnussen but then at the stop for dry tyres 10 seconds were lost, although fortunately no positions. He spent the rest of the race chasing down Russell, jogging memories of their spectacular clash at the same venue the previous year. He got onto the tail of the Mercedes, but couldn’t find a way past.
Nevertheless fifth was another great result for Bottas and his team.
“Good to get 10 points from this race,” he said. “The car was really good today. Obviously it’s unfortunate that we lost bit of time during the pitstop, but these things happen, and we need to learn from it. But apart from that, a really strong race.
“When we went to the slicks, I really could push like qualifying every lap. So that made it pretty fun. And especially the middle to the end of that stint we had really good performance, good pace. Only the last few laps once I got close to George my rear right started to grain a bit, once I was demanding a bit more traction and so on. So just couldn’t quite get him, but maybe next time.”
The 2021 clash with George Russell at the same circuit didn’t play on his mind, although Bottas admitted the thought of beating the man who had replaced him at Mercedes was a driving force in the closing laps. “I tried not to think about [the previous year’s crash], obviously. But Mercedes and George, that was my motivation throughout the race, to push every lap and hopefully get a chance towards the end. But I didn’t quite get it. And I lost like 10 seconds in the pit stop, so without that for sure. It could have been a bit different.
“If you look at the time we would have been close to P3, but would it have been possible to overtake? That’s the question mark.”
Four races into the season Bottas lies eighth in the World Championship, just four points behind Hamilton. Without the Jeddah retirement he would be ahead.
The Mercedes struggle is a scenario that no one could have envisaged, but there are sound reasons why Alfa has made a step.
Like others towards the back of the grid the team did virtually no development on its 2021 car, and made an early switch to the 2022 model. Throw in an improved Ferrari power unit, which has clearly also helped Haas, and there’s some logic behind the step the team has made.