Bottas suspects an issue with his Mercedes after poor P10 in Baku qualifying
Valtteri Bottas was at a loss to explain his lack of performance in qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, the Finn suggesting there must be something wrong with his Mercedes because he was losing time in every single corner on his way to P10 on the grid.
Mercedes have struggled all weekend for performance, the Silver Arrows finding it tricky to get temperature into their Pirelli tyres on the Baku track.
Bottas’ team mate Lewis Hamilton, who moved to a lower downforce rear wing ahead after final practice, made a big step forward a dramatic qualifying – which saw four red flags – to secure a front row slot with second – but the Finn couldn’t match that improvement.
“It was pretty messy as expected with the red flags, yellow flags everything,” said Bottas. “From my side, the last run I missed like many others, but something is still not right. I’m so far off the pace and I have no clue why. I have no explanation.”
I have no explanation. I think something is wrong
He added: “I’m losing every corner. If I push harder, I’m in the wall. So that’s the limit. It’s strange. Coming here, I thought we would be fighting at the front. Lewis is at the front, in the fight, and I should be as well. I have no explanation. I think something is wrong.”
Bottas – who stuck with a higher downforce rear wing - ended the session 1.2 seconds behind Hamilton, around the same gap he’s had to his team mate all weekend.
P10 is his lowest start since the 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, when he started last following a power unit change.
However, he can take hope from the fact Baku’s street circuit has often thrown up chaotic races, with Daniel Ricciardo winning from the same P10 position in 2017.
“I will try to understand everything I can and tomorrow, with this race, anything can happen,” said Bottas. “There will be opportunities.”