Valtteri Bottas feels he owed it to Alfa Romeo to put in a good performance in qualifying after crashing in Friday practice, and duly delivered fifth on the grid for the Miami Grand Prix.
A spin at Turn 8 saw Bottas go into the wall backwards and heavily damage his car in Friday’s first session, resulting in him missing FP2 and crucial track time at a new circuit. After edging through Q1, Bottas improved throughout qualifying to secure a top-five grid slot and he says the way he built up to the final lap was particularly satisfying.
“I felt like I had an obligation to pay the team back with a good result,” Bottas said. “I think we can be pleased with the recovery we did from yesterday because I missed so much running.
“We had a good FP3 just focusing on the priorities, getting the setup right, and then it was really up to me to find the rhythm. Lap by lap I could find things here and there because I had some catching up to do, compared to other drivers, so I’m pleased with the way it ended. I had my best lap of the weekend on the last lap of Q3.”
Given the lack of running on Friday, Bottas says the car was the best it has been all season — competitive enough over one lap to beat former team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
“Performance-wise, in qualifying, yes, I think [it’s the best]. But coming here I knew that this track layout could be quite OK for us. I think it proved we still have a good car in low-speed corners and we’re pretty good on the straights as well.
“It’s a great atmosphere and, again, when I heard the result from my engineer I could hear the guys cheering in the garage, in the background, almost like being on pole. It’s quite refreshing, in a way, and the atmosphere is good and we can actually enjoy it the right way.”
Bottas doesn’t expect any surprises in race trim despite missing out on Friday’s long running, as a number of red flag interruptions ensured nobody had clean race simulations.
“We got a mini-long run, at least to get a feel for the balance in FP3, at the end with high fuel, so I don’t think we’ve missed that much because there were red flags in FP2 when people were doing their long runs. I think that, normally, we have quite a good race car. The car is not any worse in the races than it is in qualifying, compared to the others.”