Bottas ‘not bothered’ to miss pole as he looks for Lap 1 advantage over Hamilton
Valtteri Bottas seems raring to go for the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday even though he missed out on pole position by a considerable margin to Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton, the Finn instead preferring to focus on the potential benefits of starting P2 at Spa-Francorchamps.
Hamilton set a track record of 1m 41.252s in a dominant qualifying performance on Saturday in Belgium, while Bottas narrowly claimed second over Red Bull’s Max Verstappen – by just 0.015s – as he lost out on pole by 0.511s.
But the Finn was unfazed by that, safe in the knowledge that second can easily be converted into first on lap 1, with the long blast out of La Source to Les Combes offering the perfect opportunity to use a slipstream to slingshot past an opponent - as Sebastian Vettel did from second on polesitter Hamilton in 2018.
“I’m not too bothered [to miss pole] because I know second place is a good place to start here, it should be an interesting run into Turn 5 [Les Combes].
“Of course, I need to attack if I still want to keep the title hopes there. Nothing is over until it’s over, [I’m] definitely going to go for it. I think the first lap is a great opportunity and here, always, racing is good so I know already that there will be opportunities to do it,” he said.
On his first Q3 flying run, Bottas locked up and lost time before improving on his second go, yet Hamilton had improved again to underline pole position. La Source (Turn 1), the hairpin that begins the run down to Eau Rouge, turned out to be a troubling corner for Bottas.
“Yeah, Turn 1 was a bit inconsistent, [but] I think we got the car right there,” explained Bottas. “Just in the first run, the tyres were too cool or something to start the lap, so I had a bit of a lockup. The first run was [lost] there.
“The second run I felt, actually, it was pretty good overall so I don’t know the gap to Lewis,” he concluded.
His results at Spa read P5, P4 and P3 over the last three Belgian Grands Prix for Mercedes – so will Bottas turn P2 into victory, continue his sequence of results for the Silver Arrows, or fare worse on Sunday?