Valtteri Bottas says he took some risks and was left with “the shakes” after his lap that secured him pole position at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton was on provisional pole after the first runs, and had run wide into the gravel at the final corner, meaning he still had more time to find. Despite that, Bottas responded on the final attempts to snatch pole by just under 0.1s at Imola, and says he took some risks as he was still not fully comfortable after just one practice session on Saturday.
“There are never easy pole positions,” Bottas said. “I’m really enjoying this track — when you push flat out it’s beautiful. I knew I had to improve in the last lap and found those small gains that we needed. It’s a great feeling when you can find those and I definitively had the shakes after. It was good fun.
“For me the Turns 2/3 were something I was working on all day and I only got there at the end. Also in the last two corners I was struggling all day — every time I tried to go for it I struggled with instability of the car. But I knew in the last lap I had to try and I risked it and the car just managed to turn in nicely — it was good!
A sensational lap around a sensational track 😍
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“There’s a couple of points in this track, like in every track, but especially on this one with such limited practice and experience. I had some issues sometimes in Turn 2, with locking up trying to brake too late. Sometimes into the last two corners, the downhill braking, I braked too late and that’s why I lost a bit of momentum coming out of those corners; it’s just small things like that and there was no time to waste with braking, which I wasn’t quite comfortable with in places.
“I’m glad I could get there eventually and on the last run you’re certainly not holding back at all — you either go for it or go home! I’m glad it was a good-enough lap.”
Bottas thinks a lack of experience at Imola added to the challenge for a number of drivers in qualifying, given the revised schedule of just one 90-minute practice session.
“I didn’t really have much experience of this track and once we got down to the qualifying session, the laps kept going faster and you really start to appreciate this track more and more. Towards the end of qualifying, when you’re really flat out, it’s really beautiful. It’s enjoyable to drive, proper old-school track and that’s what we all like.
“The last lap was good enough. I doubt anyone had a perfect lap with the short amount of practice we had, having to be on the limit in just one day, getting into the rhythm quickly. But it was good enough and definitely better than the first lap I had in Q3. There were a few places around the track where I definitely had to make big gains, and at least I managed to minimize most of the losses. In the places I was already quick, I tried to make them even better.”