Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas has been forced to explain his expletive outburst following his win in the first race of the F1 season in Melbourne this morning.
The Finn was on his cool-down lap after passing through the chequered flag and had just been congratulated by his team. His response was, “To whom it may concern, f*** you."
Many experts interpreted the comments as signs of frustration from Bottas, after a less than successful 2018 led to him to being regularly criticised whilst his teammate Lewis Hamilton won his fifth world title.
Bottas, however, has since said that there was no planning behind it and that there was no deeper meaning behind the words.
"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.
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"Obviously there are many people who support you, and honestly I appreciate that a lot.
"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."
Bottas described his win in Australia as the best race of his Formula 1 career so far and admitted that the Mercedes car has performed better 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."
After the win, Bottas has taken an early lead in the Championship, sitting eight points ahead of Hamilton in second. They will meet again on the grid in two weeks, in Bahrain.