Bottas: Gap to Hamilton 'confusing' after 'extracting everything' from P2 lap

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Valtteri Bottas admits the gap to Lewis Hamilton is "confusing" after "extracting everything" from his Mercedes in Bahrain qualifying.

The Finn had looked set for third on the grid after struggling to match the pace of his teammate and Max Verstappen throughout the session at Sakhir.

However, a strong final run in Q3 would Bottas move ahead of the Red Bull, albeit still over two-tenths slower than Hamilton on pole.

“I don’t really know, actually,” he said of the cause of that deficit. “It [the lap] felt good, that’s the problem, when it feels good, you feel like you’re extracting everything out of the car but the lap time is not there – that’s the most confusing part.

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“I cannot say more at the moment, there were no mistakes and on the last lap, I thought it was really good.

"It’s like small things here and there, there’s not one clear corner. I need to find out but, at least, it’s another front-row lockout for us.”

Asked if there could be a fundamental problem, perhaps with the chassis or with another part of his Mercedes, Bottas played it down.

“I don’t think there’s an underlying issue, really, with the performance of the car,” he claimed. "I think it’s there, the long runs were good, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”


Bottas though did indicate that he and Hamilton had gone a different route on setup, potentially one driver focusing on pace while the other optimises tyre life.

“Obviously, it wasn’t enough for pole, so I was quite surprised by the gap to Lewis, but I think we ended up with a quite different setup to Lewis, let’s see if that makes a difference tomorrow,” he said. “But he’s had a really good weekend, overall, every session.

"I have the feeling I definitely have the speed, but I haven’t really been able to get it all out. I thought I had got it all together at the end but, obviously, it wasn’t enough.”