Bottas says last-gasp pole extra satisfying after he snatches it away from Hamilton with final run
Not only did Valtteri Bottas take his maiden Nurburgring pole position on Saturday, but the Finn managed to keep Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton at bay by 0.256s with his final and fastest flying lap of qualifying – which he said made taking a third pole of 2020 even sweeter.
Mercedes upheld their 100% pole position record in 2020, but it was Bottas who was on top this time, ending a five-race pole-less run with a new track record of 1m25.269s at the Nurburgring. And making it count against F1's pole positions record holder Hamilton on his final run was the icing on the cake, he said.
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“Of course you enjoy it when you manage to put it on pole, and especially when it’s the last lap that really counts, and when you get a good lap and it’s enough for pole, it’s a really good feeling and one of those feelings and sensations why we do this. Really good fun,” said Bottas.
However, it was Max Verstappen who was on provisional pole after the first laps of Q3 and then Hamilton, who managed to eclipse the Red Bull driver with a time of 1m25.525s. Bottas then set the timing screens alight – leaving all three sectors purple – to snatch a 14th career pole position in the dying seconds of qualifying for the Eifel Grand Prix.
“It’s always a nice feeling to be on pole but with that lap, it was pretty tidy and I got all the details right and I was struggling quite a bit in the first sector throughout qualifying but really in the last lap I managed to get it more or less right so that was a good feeling,” he added.
With Sunday’s race set to take place on what will be a cold and tricky Nurburgring surface, and with a lack of long run practice thanks to a Friday lost to fog, Bottas was especially excited for what will be a race of unknowns.
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“I really like the idea that there’s going to be a few question marks for tomorrow, but at least we’re starting from the best place on the grid, so we’re going to be in a good place,” he concluded.
Saturday represented Bottas’s best qualification at the Nurburgring as, in 2013 when F1 last raced at the track, he qualified 17th and finished 16th for Williams. He goes into the race 44-points behind Hamilton in the championship - a deficit he will hope to start chipping away at with victory on Sunday.