RACE DEBRIEF

    The scintillating battle for pole position in Portugal came down to one crucial choice, according to Valtteri Bottas, and the Finn was left to rue the call he made in qualifying as he was beaten to top spot on the grid by his Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton at the very end of the session.

    Bottas and Hamilton were given the choice to switch from softs to medium tyres at the end of Q3 at Portimao for a final run at pole position – and both switched to the yellow-walled compounds. Then, they had to choose between doing just one timed lap, with one lap’s worth of fuel at the end of qualifying, or two timed laps with double the fuel load. Bottas chose the former, and ultimately missed out on pole by just 0.102s, having looked the quicker of the two Silver Arrows drivers up to that point.

    READ MORE: Hamilton beats Bottas to Portuguese GP pole with final charging run at Portimao

    “The first decision was obviously which tyre we go for, but based on what I felt in Q2 I felt like the medium was actually a tiny bit better than the soft tyre over the whole timed lap, so I went for the medium,” said Bottas.

    “With one [timed lap] you can have less fuel in the car, but you might struggle with the tyre warmup. I went for that, it was my decision to go for one time because it worked in Q2. Apparently, it seems like doing two timed laps for Lewis was better.

    2020 Portuguese GP FP3: Bottas sets a lap of 1m16.654s – 0.1s quicker than his Q3 time of 1m16.754s

    “Ultimately it was the wrong decision, but then maybe the track temperature dropped slightly, [so] I couldn’t get the tyres to feel the same as they did in Q2. At the end of that lap I was just hoping 'I wish I could have one more lap', but I didn’t have enough fuel. The wrong call from my side – it is annoying, for sure – but Lewis did a good job at the end,” he said.

    READ MORE: Hamilton ‘had to drive the nuts off the car’ to secure 97th pole at ‘hardcore’ Portimao

    The Finn, who topped every practice session in Portugal prior to qualifying, and was quickest in Q2, added that it was frustrating not to carry over his Friday and Saturday morning form to Q3.

    “It is annoying. It’s very annoying. That’s the word,” he said, “but practice sessions, being at the top, it doesn’t matter anything and always I try to reset after the session and just try to focus on the coming one.

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    Bottas took pole at the Nurburgring but retired from the race. What will Portugal hold for him?

    “Especially after Practice 3 you always need to reset after practice and try to take the learning you can from practice to do things even better. So, knowing that you have the pace, it’s annoying. That’s how it is. Quickly, I have to forget that; it’s only qualifying. The race is tomorrow and I know I have the speed,” he concluded.

    Bottas has won just one Grand Prix from second on the grid – Australia 2019 – so he needs to buck the trend if he is to do so on Sunday and reduce Hamilton’s 69-point lead in the standings.