RACE DEBRIEF

    Valtteri Bottas extended his congratulations to Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton on reaching what the Finn called a “crazy” century of pole positions in Spain on Saturday, but Bottas wasn’t so happy with his own performance, taking P3 after a small but costly mistake at Turn 10.

    The top three in Barcelona were split by just 0.132s in a nailbiting qualifying session, with Red Bull's Max Verstappen splitting the two Mercedes.

    READ MORE: Verstappen happy 'to be that close' to Mercedes with P2 on the grid after Q1 struggles

    Asked whether he was happy with his qualifying session, given the agonisingly small margin to pole, Bottas replied: “First of all, massive congrats to Lewis for the 100. It’s a crazy number, so well done.

    “And yes, I was always expecting to have a close qualifying and I’m gutted, because in the first run, which was the fastest run for the top 3 cars at least, in Turn 10 I had a bit of a snap at the apex and lost a bit more than a tenth [of a second].”

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    Bottas has now qualified P1, P2 and P3 in his last three Spanish GPs

    That tenth of a second could have sealed Bottas pole, or at least a front row start to secure Mercedes a fourth consecutive one-two in Spanish GP qualifying. Regardless, the Finnish driver remained pragmatic and said he expected another close fight for victory on Sunday.

    “Those kind of things, they are annoying but can happen,” continued Bottas. “But overall in the qualifying session, the pace was good, the speed was there; it was all about the fine details at the end and I couldn’t quite get it right today.

    HIGHLIGHTS: All the action from qualifying for the Spanish GP as Hamilton takes his 100th pole

    “We had a strong package, it’s going to be a good fight tomorrow, no doubt. I think the long run pace is good but I think it’s honesty very similar to the Red Bulls’ in the last few races. So, I’m expecting a good fight."

    Bottas starts the Spanish Grand Prix third, but sits fourth in the Championship behind McLaren’s Lando Norris, who starts ninth tomorrow. But the Mercedes driver will be looking ahead to pole-sitter Hamilton and P2 starter Verstappen, who are on 69 and 61 points, respectively.