Valtteri Bottas is aiming to delay Lewis Hamilton’s title confirmation after taking pole position at the United States Grand Prix.
Hamilton only needs to finish eighth to guarantee a sixth drivers’ championship regardless of what Bottas does, with the Finn the only driver who can stop his Mercedes team-mate taking the crown. Bottas duly took pole on Saturday in Austin with Hamilton only fifth, and is only thinking about victory.
“I think as we’ve seen recently we’ve been normally competitive on Sundays, so it’s obviously very good to start from pole here,” Bottas said. “There are some corners where it is quite difficult to follow for those behind. I believe we have the pace and winning is going to be the only thing in my mind going into tomorrow. Only one very small part of the weekend is done, the big part that matters is tomorrow and I need to focus on that.
“I think it would be better if you’d ask him, because I don’t know what is mindset is right now, but from what I know from him, he’s going to be fighting hard. He always hates to lose and wants to win, like all of us. He’s leading the championship with a big margin, doesn’t need many points, so he would like to win the championship in a nice way, if and when it happens.
“Obviously I will try to delay it as much as possible, but I can only focus on my own race, try to focus on winning the race, rather than in anyone else’s opinions or mindsets.”
Bottas looked like being an outsider for pole position until the first runs in Q3, where his opening lap proved good enough to secure his fifth pole of the year.
“It definitely felt good putting that lap together in the beginning of Q3,” Bottas said. “Obviously after yesterday, this was not an easy day to approach, as I had a difficult day on Friday. Luckily, we found many things in the car that weren’t quite right also with the set-up direction, so we changed it completely, so the car felt a lot better this morning.
“Then we were just focusing on the things that matter and where I needed to improve. So I had a very clear vision in my mind how to do it, but then it was down to actually doing it and that lap felt really good. Even though I was a bit off in Q1 and Q2, I knew that it was somewhere there and I managed to find it.”