Valtteri Bottas suspects a water pressure issue on his Alfa Romeo car was behind his early retirement from the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

Starting 18th, Bottas capitalised on Charles Leclerc’s car failing on the formation lap and a collision on the run to Turn 1 impacting several drivers to gain six positions.

The Finnish driver was running in an encouraging 12th place when his race engineer, Alex Chan, informed him to return to the pitlane to retire the car on Lap 41.

Having been involved in a close battle with Esteban Ocon, who eventually ended up 10th, Bottas believes Alfa Romeo squandered an opportunity to score some vital points.

“It was a lot better today than yesterday. I actually felt we could fight for the points, so it’s a real shame to be standing here, because there was a realistic chance to score today, especially with all the things that happened at the start,” Bottas rued.

Asked what the reason was for his abrupt exit, Bottas replied: “I don’t know, actually. I was told that I had to stop the car, so I did it, but I don’t know what the issue yet.”

He added: “I think the water temperatures, the water pressure started to a level where they shouldn’t be, so there was something clearly wrong. We need to investigate what happened to both cars, but it’s a real shame, because today we really had a good pace.”

The approach to Turn 1 saw Alex Albon and Nico Hulkenberg touch, resulting in the Williams driver colliding with the sister Haas car of Kevin Magnussen, putting both out.

Meanwhile, the ensuing damage also hindered Daniel Ricciardo and Oscar Piastri, but Bottas couldn’t determine whether any debris contributed to his later retirement.

“I managed to mostly avoid all the debris, there was quite a lot of stuff flying around, I don’t know if that had anything to do with the DNF, but, as I said, I don’t actually know the reason we had to stop,” he reiterated.

Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Alfa Romeo F1 Team C43 leads team mate Zhou Guanyu (CHN) Alfa Romeo F1 Team C43. 05.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21, Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Race Day.

Bottas accompanied his team-mate Guanyu Zhou in failing to reach the chequered flag.

Although the ex-Mercedes race winner contends “it’s possible” the two were related, Alfa Romeo Team Representative Alessandro Alunni Bravi revealed that “it was two separate issues that forced us to stop the cars to avoid any further damage.”

Alunni Bravi insists that the Hinwil-based squad must get to the bottom of the problems that curtailed its running.

“Last year we suffered quite a few DNFs, and this year we improved significantly: it’s therefore even more disappointing to have two of them in the same race, and at the end of the season, when every opportunity matters even more,” he issued.

AlphaTauri capitalised on the high attrition rate at Interlagos to bag ninth place with Yuki Tsunoda, who also scored two points in Saturday’s shortened 24-lap Sprint race.

His haul marked AlphaTauri’s third consecutive points-scoring race, pulling the Faenza side five points clear of Alfa Romeo in the Constructors’ Championship.

“It’s tough, I think today we definitively had the opportunity to score good points and now some competitors did score, so, not a good day,” Bottas lamented.

“We have to understand the issues. It’s not great, but there’s still two rounds to go, so we try to score there. Now it’s more difficult, of course, but it’s still possible. Still, we need to do something incredible if we are to score points.”

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