Bottas, Verstappen happy to risk it for fastest lap point

Bottas, Verstappen happy to risk it for fastest lap point

Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen moved to play down the importance of their late-race battle to secure the bonus point for fastest lap at the Australian Grand Prix, but both were happy to risk impressive outings in order to take the extra prize on offer in Melbourne.

Bottas ultimately took maximum points, adding the fastest lap to his race victory to take home 26 points from Albert Park.

The Finn told Mercedes “I want 26 points” while discussing the prospects of a late pit-stop in Melbourne – the Silver Arrows opting for a risk-averse strategy.

Bottas secured fastest lap seven times in 2018 – if points were on offer he would have finished two places higher in the drivers’ standings, leapfrogging both Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen.

“Obviously it’s a point and if you get three of those or more it’s going to make a big difference at the end of the year,” Bottas said.

“You never know. One point can make a difference in the end.

“For sure we’re willing to risk but still knowing that if you’re about to get 20 or 18 points or 15, whatever, they are still more important than getting one extra so you need to calculate the risk but today was worth it, within a stop for an extra set of tyres for it, but with the worn tyres I went for a quick lap and it was worth it.”

Verstappen set the fastest lap with four tours remaining as he chased second-place Lewis Hamilton in Melbourne, only for Bottas to resume top spot on the penultimate lap.

The Dutchman added: “There are 21 possible points you can get so it can help but like Valtteri said, at the end of the day it’s most important to score 25 or 18, 15, 10.

“Try to go for one more and then it goes wrong, it can happen sometimes but anyway, I think in some situations like today, I was pushing anyway to try and get Lewis so it happened that I was doing, at that time, the fastest lap. It’s nice if it happens.”