Valtteri Bottas is now facing a “mental battle” in his fight with Lewis Hamilton, according to Formula 1 chief Ross Brawn, following the outcome of the Tuscan Grand Prix.
Bottas held a pace advantage over Hamilton for much of the weekend at Mugello but the World Champion inched ahead in Q2 and preserved a slender gain at the start of Q3.
Bottas was denied a second Q3 push lap when Esteban Ocon went off but surged into the lead anyway at the start when Hamilton bogged down.
However, Bottas’ stint in the lead proved short-lived as Hamilton passed him at the first standing restart, and remained in front at the second restart.
It means Hamilton now has six victories and seven poles to the one triumph and two poles amassed by Bottas this year.
Hamilton holds a 55-point advantage in the championship with eight events to go.
“Valtteri will leave Tuscany believing he should have a victory trophy in his possession, the Finn was in tremendous shape after snatching the lead from Lewis,” said Brawn in his post-race column.
“But he let the win slip through his fingers and he must be struggling to come to terms with another defeat to the reigning World Champion.
“This one will hurt and will leave him asking himself – what does he need to do to get the better of his team-mate?
“He’s still in the championship hunt, of course, but as every race goes by, his chances are slipping away.
“It’s now a mental battle, because he has the speed. But Lewis is relentless, takes every opportunity and rarely gives one to his opposition.”