Lewis Hamilton was critical of his own performance in his final qualifying lap as he was beaten to pole position by Valtteri Bottas at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, on an Imola circuit that he expects overtaking to be particularly difficult on.
Despite Hamilton being quickest on the first Q3 runs and making an error at the final corner that meant he had more time to find, Bottas improved even further and took pole by 0.1s. Hamilton thinks his performance could prove costly on Sunday.
“Valtteri did a great job and that was a pretty p**s poor lap from myself,” Hamilton said. “But these things happen — you can’t always get it perfect.
“Ultimately in Q3 … both laps weren’t that great to be honest. The first lap was OK, the second one was pretty poor, so to only have been that far away considering is not so bad. We live to fight another day tomorrow.
“What is unfortunate really with this track is it’s so beautiful to drive but I’m pretty certain you’re going to see a boring race tomorrow. You can overtake on this long straight but it’s quite narrow. Once you get into Turn 1 it’s a train from there — there’s no single place you can overtake anywhere else.
“So it’s going to be a challenge for people following but the DRS will hopefully give some overtaking opportunities. For us you see we’re within 0.1s of each other, so to have an opportunity to overtake I think you need to have something like a gain of two seconds. Nonetheless I’m going to give it everything I’ve got tomorrow and fingers crossed.”
Hamilton holds the record for most pole positions in Formula 1 history — the 97th coming in Portugal – and he believes Bottas shows just how good he is by being able to get the better of their internal battle on occasion.
“I don’t think I really need to say much. I mean, jeez, he just got pole position, he’s ahead of me, and I have more poles than anyone here, so it’s not like I’m a slowpoke. He’s doing an amazing job. I think his results speak for itself, I don’t really need to say much more.
“He does his talking on the track. That’s the great thing about Valtteri. I don’t think there’s many people that can do what he’s doing, if I’m really honest. I’ve got a huge amount of respect for him.”