Valtteri Bottas believes he would not have been able to finish on the podium during a hectic Azerbaijan Grand Prix had it not been for the second Safety Car period.
The Finn, starting from second on the grid, was left with a puncture and damage to his front wing after colliding with fellow countryman Kimi Raikkonen at Turn 2 on the opening lap in Baku, forcing him into an early stop which left him a lap down on the rest of the field. Bottas was so far down the order that even a Safety Car period to recover Daniil Kvyat's stricken Toro Rosso did not enable him to catch up to the pack.
Instead, it would be under the second Safety Car -- deployed for debris Turn 1 -- when the Mercedes driver was finally able to catch up with the tail end of the field. While others fell away following a red-flag period, Bottas scythed his way up the order into the top three, before rounding off a remarkable recovery drive by out-dragging Williams' Lance Stroll for second place in the final few metres of the race.
"It was a long time that I had to wait to get through the cars in front and the [first] Safety Car and I was asking for the permission," Bottas explained. "Once the track was clear then they gave me the permission, but unfortunately I didn't have enough time to catch everyone. Not so long after that there was another Safety Car that allowed me to close the gap and then gave opportunity for this podium to happen."
Despite his opening lap set-back, Bottas said he kept his head down and simply focused on "getting everything right" in the remainder of the grand prix.
"After what happened in Lap 1 I couldn't really set a goal. I just tried to keep my head down, keep on pushing, take the maximum out of every single corner and every single situation and it ended up really good for us, in the end.
"Once I passed Ocon I was already in a good position, the team gave me the gap to Lance and also the possible pace difference, so I knew I had to get everything right. I was just focussed on getting every single corner of every single lap perfect, pushing to the limit of what I had in the car and I managed to get him, so I'm glad I got a few extra points like that."