Valtteri Bottas says he’ll “maybe have a word with” Sargeant following F1 Japanese GP contact

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Photo Credit: Alfa Romeo F1 Team

The 2023 Japanese Grand Prix was not the best one for Alfa Romeo as neither of the drivers earned any points for the team, with Zhou Guanyu finishing in P13 and Bottas not finishing after having to deal with getting hit twice in the opening five laps and eventually retiring the car.

Valtteri Bottas got the 16th-fastest lap for Alfa Romeo in the qualifying for Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix, falling just barely short of the Q2 qualifying cut-off.

His race the next day didn’t get off to the best of starts when he got sandwiched between Ocon and Albon, damaging his car.

When being asked about the incident following the race, Bottas claimed Esteban Ocon was to blame because he ought to have given the Alfa Romeo more space but didn’t.

“Actually I had a pretty decent start off the line, and then I was between two cars and the car on the right started to drift towards me and, in the end, didn’t leave any space and we collided.

“I was in the middle of the two cars and I can’t disappear from there, especially going at full gas. I don’t know if the car on the right saw me, or knew if I was there, but we collided. So, I had a puncture on Lap 1,” the Finn said.

His teammate Zhou Guanyu also had some damage from debris related to the contact in front of him, so both Alfa Romeo cars had to stop at the same time and explained the long hold they had.

“We had to stop both cars at the same time and we also had to change the nosecone, so, yes, it was a bit messy.”

Despite the incident, the safety car allowed both Bottas and Zhou to catch up with the rest of the pack. That was until Bottas was knocked into the gravel by Logan Sargeant at the Turn 11 hairpin as Bottas attempted to pass the rookie around the outside.

The car was undriveable after that and his day was done.

“It clearly wasn’t meant to be today, for me, I tried to overtake him around the outside, I thought I left him plenty of space but I think he locked up and then he took me out. Unlucky.”

“Yes, there was too much damage, it felt like something in the suspension but on the diffuser. Plus, there was a big hole on the sidepod, so it was not clearly my day. It was clearly undrivable at that point. A bit unlucky,” he added.

He was also asked if he will speak to Sargeant about the incident which ended both their races. It’s the second time in three events that the American has hit the Finn. The pair touched at the second chicane in the closing laps at Monza

“Yes, maybe I’ll have a word with him, to figure out what he was thinking about. It could be it was just a mistake.”

Sargeant explained his side of events afterwards as well, admitting his surprise that Bottas didn’t see him out of control as he locked up the moment the Floridian touched the brakes.

“From my side, I locked [up] the second I touched the brakes. He must not have seen that.

“I was never going to make the corner. I was surprised he just didn’t cut underneath me.

“It was front locking from the second I hit the brake.”