Bottas happy to bounce back with pole, Hamilton rues 'messy' Portimao qualifying

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Valtteri Bottas was happy to put the woes of Imola behind him with pole position at the Portuguese Grand Prix.

The Finn's first run of Q3 in qualifying was just enough to pip Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by 0.007s at Portimao, denying the seven-time world champion his 100th Formula 1 pole in the process.

And after being somewhat anonymous on Saturday's so far this season, Bottas' first pole since Sakhir last year was certainly welcome.

“Yes, it has definitely put a smile on my face because in the first two races of the season the qualifying from my side hasn’t really been, at least the Q3 session, hasn’t been the strongest point," he said.

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"Getting everything out of the tyres, getting the tyres to work well, it has been a bit of a weakness, but now it felt like things are starting to go in the right direction.

“I’ve been feeling strong all weekend, so I knew it was possible and it definitely makes me really happy to put it together in Q3 and be on pole.”

At Imola, tyre struggles led to a miserable Q3 that left Bottas down in eighth, with the wet conditions on Sunday only adding to his problems as he was taken out by George Russell in a Williams.

But to recover from that setback was another reason why Valtteri was more than satisfied with pole.

"You talk about mentally, I took all the learning points and there were lots of lessons from the last race, as always, it’s how it goes," he explained.

"The rest, I should forget and move completely to the side of those and moved on. I know that hard work will always pay off and that’s what I’ve been telling my team as well.

“It’s only Saturday and I always knew it was possible with a good qualifying. We’ll see tomorrow, tomorrow is the day that matters.”

As for teammate Hamilton, it's only a matter of time before the century of F1 poles is confirmed and he admits his performance at Portimao was far from ideal.

“It was a difficult session,” he said. “I think for everyone, it’s not that easy here, particularly as it is windy and quite slippery on this surface so it was challenging for everyone.


“Quite a messy session for me really. Q1 wasn’t good, Q2 I only had one good lap and I would say in the whole session, I only had one good lap.

“Q3 was pretty poor. Valtteri did a great job in the conditions we’re in.”

In Q2, Hamilton set the best time of the weekend with a 1m17.9s on the medium compound, triggering Mercedes to switch back to that tyre for the final run of Q3.

However, the Briton was unable to replicate that lap on his second attempt.

“It probably wasn’t the right decision at the end,” he said.

“It was just tricky out there, you saw us doing multiple laps. The tyres are too hard here, so they don’t work really well with the surface so we have to do extra laps to get temperature in.

“At the end, I just didn’t have great grip, so didn’t do the greatest job.”


As for team boss Toto Wolff, the first Mercedes 1-2 in qualifying this season filled him with optimism that the early issues with the W12 are being overcome.

“I’m not sure we had the fastest car, but we made a big step forward,” he said.

“We had an 18.2s from Max that was deleted because of track limits. He’s probably gained half a tenth maybe, but no more.

“Then, on the other side, Valtteri had a very good first lap in Q3, so I would say we caught up a lot in quali, and maybe on par. We think we have a good racing car.”