Having been congratulated by his engineer on the cool-down lap after taking the chequered flag in Melbourne, Bottas said: “To whom it may concern, f*** you.”
The message was interpreted as echoing the frustration he felt in the face of criticism last season after he failed to win a race while teammate Lewis Hamilton won his fifth world championship,
Bottas insisted that the comment was made spontaneously, and that those it was aimed at will know who they are.
“It just came, I just wanted to send my best regards,” he explained. “That’s it. Honestly, I didn’t think about it or plan it, it just came.
“Obviously there are many people who support you, and honestly I appreciate that a lot.
“There are always ups and downs, and you can really see the true support quite easily.
“And then through the difficult times there’s the other part, which is a lot more negative. That’s their weakness, so it’s fine.”
Asked if he felt criticism last year was unfair, he said: “I can’t say unfair, because everyone can say what they really want.
“Just for whom it may concern, maybe they should look in the mirror sometimes and think actually why they do that. For me it’s OK now.”
Pressed on who he had targeted with the comment, he said: “It would be quite a long list, unfortunately, that’s how it goes. I’m sure the people to who it was, they would know it.”
Bottas described Australia as the best race of his career to date, and admitted that Mercedes had been faster than expected.
“It’s really special. It’s obviously only my fourth win anyway in F1, after a winless 2018, even better. So very, very pleased.
“But it doesn’t happen like that, there’s obviously a lot of work to be able to win, and to be able to on that kind of pace.
“Obviously for winning you need a quick car, and as a team we’ve been able to do it. After quite difficult winter testing, here being maybe quicker than expected, made it possible. From my side I have to say it’s the best race I’ve had so far in my career.”
Bottas agreed that the result would provide a boost to his confidence,
“In sport and especially this sport the confidence you get from the results is massive, and it can boost you a lot.
“Even though there will be difficult times during every season, you always remember the good ones, and you get strength from knowing that you’ll be able to do something, like today.”