Bottas 'gutted' to miss out on pole in Spain

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas believed he was in with a strong chance of taking pole position for this... The post Bottas 'gutted' to miss out on pole in Spain appeared first on F1i.com.

Bottas 'gutted' to miss out on pole in Spain

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas believed he was in with a strong chance of taking pole position for this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix, having previously taken the top spot in 2019.

The Finn had been the fastest of anyone on Friday, and was second in the times in both Q1 and Q2 when it came to qualifying on Saturday afternoon.

But in the crucial final top ten pole shoot-out, he was only able to claim third place on the grid. He missed out on the front row to Red Bull's Max Verstappen by a tenth of a second, while his own team mate Lewis Hamilton went on to score a historic 100th pole.

"First of all, massive congrats to Lewis for the 100," Bottas told the media in parc ferme after the end of the session. "It’s a crazy number, so well done.

"That was close! It felt like I was there in the battle for the pole," he continued. "I was always expecting to have a close qualifying.

"And I’m gutted, because in the first run - which was the fastest run for the top three cars at least - in turn 10 I had a bit of a snap at the apex and lost a bit more than a tenth."

That would have been enough to put him onto the front row - if not outright pole. But Bottas did his best to shrug off the disappointment.

“Those kind of things, they are annoying but can happen,” he said. “But overall in the qualifying session, the pace was good, the speed was there.

"It was all about the fine details at the end and I couldn’t quite get it right today," he admitted. “We have a strong package. It’s going to be a good fight tomorrow, no doubt.

"I think the long run pace is good," he added. "But I think it’s honesty very similar to the Red Bulls’ in the last few races, so I’m expecting a good fight.

"If you can keep the tyres in good condition, you're going to be more competitive around the pit stops. There's the possibility to mix the strategy and try a one or a two-stop.

"It will be another close one between us and Red Bull. We'll do lots of work tonight and you'll have to wait until tomorrow to know our strategy."

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W12 and Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes AMG F1 W12. 08.05.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 4, Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff suggested that losing out on the front row might even prove to be a good thing for Bottas, as he will now start the race immediately behind Hamilton on the clean side of the track, with everyone on the same soft compound.

"We have the advantage of two cars on the clean side of the grid, and both drivers in the top three; that will provide us a strategic opportunity, and we need to make the most of it for the race."

Overall, Wolff was delighted with how the session had turned out. "[That's] exactly how we want it to be in F1, battling for every thousandth of a second.

"It looked like Max and Red Bull had a big advantage in Q2, but we kept chipping away at it and in the end, the top three drivers were covered by a tenth of a second.

"Both Lewis and Valtteri did a fantastic job in those final laps, and when it's such tiny margins, every detail makes a difference."

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Ocon: P5 in qualifying confirms Alpine step forward

Esteban Ocon says his impressive fifth place in Saturday's qualifying shootout in Barcelona is a confirmation that Alpine... The post Ocon: P5 in qualifying confirms Alpine step forward appeared first on F1i.com.

Ocon: P5 in qualifying confirms Alpine step forward

Esteban Ocon says his impressive fifth place in Saturday's qualifying shootout in Barcelona is a confirmation that Alpine has made a clear step forward since the start of the season.

Ocon secured at the Circuit de Catalunya his best qualifying result since the 2018 Belgian GP at Spa where the Frenchman lined up third on the grid, racing for Racing Point.

But the 24-year-old also outpaced his veteran teammate Fernando Alonso for the third consecutive time as the Spaniard concluded the session P10.

Ocon praised the crews at Alpine's Enstone and Viry-Chatillon factories for their efforts of late.

"I feel good, it's been a great session, very pleased with starting with the top-five," said Ocon. "It's been a long time but it's shows that we are working extremely well with my group of people at the moment.

"Also, not being satisfied with where we were at the start of the season has paid off, because you know both factories are so motivated to improve the pace of the car, and each time we are finding a few little things on the package that seem to be working.

"So we need to keep going because at the moment we have good rhythm."

Asked whether the performance of Alpine's A521 would be track specific or not moving forward, Ocon reckoned that Saturday's pace in Barcelona in the wake of the car's good performance in Portugal delivered a clear answer to that question.

"It's a confirmation that the car is working fine," he said. "In Portimão, it was a very specific track, with low grip and quite difficult so we weren't sure.

"We wanted to come here and see how the car performed because last year we were out of the top ten. That we are in the top five in qualifying, it really confirms that we've made a step forward."

  • Read also: Hamilton hits historic 100th pole ahead of Verstappen

Like his rivals, Ocon failed to improve his best time on his second run in Q3. But the Frenchman says his final flyer was actually faster until he encountered an issue.

"I was going to improve, but I got a little issue that we need to have a look at what it is exactly, but I was a tenth up," he explained.

"So a bit disappointing, we could have probably gotten P4 but we're satisfied with how the qualie went."

Ocon is confident of a good showing in Sunday's race but expects a challenge from Ferrari whose drivers qualified just ahead of the Alpine charger.

"I think the car is capable in the race," he added. "Definitely we've shown that we were fast also in Portimão.

"I think the Ferraris will give us a tough time, especially Charles who was very fast on Friday. So we need to see but we race in there to fight!"

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