Valtteri Bottas says he was not asked to slow down for Lewis Hamilton in qualifying at the Turkish Grand Prix and simply lost time in the final corners.
After the first runs in Q3, Bottas was on provisional pole position but Hamilton went out early for his final run and duly went 0.2s clear of his teammate. The championship leader was chasing the fastest time to limit the impact of a 10-place grid penalty for exceeding power unit components, meaning Bottas qualifying second was the perfect result for Mercedes as the Finn would inherit pole.
While Bottas was up for a spell of his final lap, he lost time compared to Hamilton later on but says his tires were past their best in the last part of the track.
“No, I wasn’t asked to slow down and I was definitely going for it,” Bottas said. “I started to struggle a bit with the front end in the last sector, so I just had some understeer in Turn 12 and 14, so I could feel I was losing a bit of time. I probably used the tires a bit more earlier in the lap. So, I was fully going for it, for sure.
“It was a good session and, obviously, as a result for us as a team it’s the ideal and perfect in a way, with the situation we have and with Lewis’ penalty. The session itself, Q1 was tricky with the conditions and, to be honest, even in the end of Q3 there were still a couple of spots where there were a few damp patches and you needed to be a bit cautious or find the best way around them.
“But I enjoyed it. Still the grip level was decent and from the start of the weekend the car has been in a pretty good window in terms of the setup, so we didn’t need to make massive changes.”
Bottas says he won’t be worrying about Hamilton in the race either, just on trying to win for the first time this season.
“I’ll focus on my own race tomorrow. I think that’s the best way to go when you start in front,” he said. “Hopefully I can keep up my good pace.
“I’m very motivated. I haven’t won yet this season. This is a big motivation for me but I need to focus on certain things in the race, step by step, keep the focus and hope for the best.”