Valtteri Bottas admits it was “very annoying” to lose out on pole position to Lewis Hamilton after leading every session at the Portuguese Grand Prix.
The Finn was fastest in all three practice sessions and after Hamilton edged him out in Q1 he was comfortably quickest in Q2, before duly setting the provisional pole position time. Hamilton beat it on his first flying lap on his final run, and while Bottas again went quicker on his one timed lap, Hamilton had time for a second effort and took pole position right at the end of the session.
“It is annoying, it’s very annoying — that’s the word,” Bottas said. “But being at the top in the practice sessions it doesn’t matter and always I try to reset from each session and just focus on the coming one. Especially after FP3 you always need to reset, obviously take all the learning you can from all the practices and do things even better.
“But knowing that you have the pace, it’s annoying — that’s how it is but I quickly have to forget that because it’s only qualifying, and the race is tomorrow. And I know I’ll have the speed.”
Bottas says he has to take most of the blame for the strategic choice to do just one flying lap at the end of Q3, as Mercedes allowed the drivers to make the call themselves.
“The first decision was, obviously, with which tire we go but based on what I felt in Q2, I felt the medium was actually a tiny bit better than the soft tire over the whole timed lap and that’s why I went for the medium. After that, it was about doing one or two timed laps.
“Obviously the benefit of going for just one lap is that you fuel it just for one — if you go for two laps you have to fuel for two and that’s obviously more weight. Based on what I felt in Q2, I had a good feeling with the tires on the single lap, I went for it again in Q3.
“Unfortunately it was the wrong decision, but maybe the track temperature dropped slightly and I just couldn’t get the tires to feel quite the same as they felt in Q2. And at the end of that lap I was just wishing I could have had one more lap, as I would then have the feel for it. Wrong call from my side, it’s annoying, for sure, but Lewis did a good job at the end.”