Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver Valtteri Bottas qualified third behind both Scuderia Ferraris for tomorrow’s Hungarian Grand Prix, and confessed the pace of the Prancing Horses surprised him.
Ferrari have had the edge over Mercedes all weekend, with at least one of their cars finishing above a Mercedes in every session this weekend. This was especially true in Qualifying, where Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen took first and second place on the grid respectively, beating Bottas and Lewis Hamilton into third and fourth.
This speed over the Mercedes team wasn’t something Bottas was expecting, having anticipated a close battle for pole.
“I was surprised by the pace of Ferrari,” said Bottas. “Yesterday we were hoping that it going to be a really tight fight for the pole.
“It was, but they had the advantage.”
The gap between Bottas and Vettel was almost three-tenths of a second, and despite this relatively large gap, the Finn doesn’t think there was much more he could have done to close in on the German.
“I had to give it everything today,” admitted the Finn. “In my first run, the lap was already quite good. Then on the second run in Q3, I was fast in sector one and two but then the tyres overheated and I lost time in sector three.
“Overall I don’t think there was much more in it for us today.”
As for what he’ll do to catch the Ferrari drivers tomorrow, Bottas says the focus is now on strategy over pace.
“Now we need to focus on tomorrow,” said Bottas. “It will be really close on race pace between the top three teams. Starting from third is not too bad. I need a good start and hopefully we can nail the strategy tomorrow.”