Bottas pinning hopes on beating Hamilton off the line after ‘annoying’ P2 in qualifying
Valtteri Bottas was left chiding himself after failing to beat Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton to pole by just 0.059s around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. And the Finn was well aware that if he was to turn that situation around in Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix, the start would be his best chance.
Bottas trailed Hamilton by that 0.059s margin after the pair’s first runs in Q3. But despite setting a purple middle sector on his final effort, even a personal best in the final sector wasn’t enough to overhaul Hamilton, as he ended up P2.
“Of course it’s annoying, but he did a good job,” said Bottas. “I knew it was going to be close with Lewis as always. I think in the end, on his first run, the lap he did was really clean, especially Sector 3.
“Actually since this morning, Sector 3 was a bit of a problematic place for me, especially Turn 10, Turn 12, just feeling less consistent and less comfortable in those corners with today’s conditions. It was getting better and better in the qualifying but not quite good enough, which is annoying because it’s about small margins and you want to perfect everything.
“I think I had some really strong corners in Sector 1 and Sector 2, but just not getting the whole lap 100% together. It’s not fun to miss the pole but it’s how it is.”
Bottas will now see if he can right that situation in Sunday’s race, with the Finn likely to be re-watching highlights of the 2019 Spanish Grand Prix in his motorhome at the track this evening – with Hamilton having outdragged him from P2 on the grid last year to take the lead into Turn 1 before checking out for the win, after Bottas had taken a dominant pole position the day before.
“You just never know in the race, but if it’s a nice and clean race, then yes, the first corner and race start is the key,” he said. “I think my starts so far have been good, so we’ll focus on that for sure for tomorrow.
“On Friday, we saw my long runs were competitive. I will have the pace but still the start will be the best chance… I’ll try to get [to Turn 1] first, trust me.”