Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One driver Valtteri Bottas has said that differing aero packages are what caused the more than half a second gap between him and teammate Lewis Hamilton in qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Mercedes struggled all weekend, though Hamilton was able to find pace and take his seventieth pole position. Bottas, on the other hand, made little improvement throughout qualifying, and will line up two rows behind his team-mate in fifth.
“It’s been a difficult weekend for us and we’ve been quite far behind at times,” said Bottas. “Compared to yesterday we made a step forward; today was a lot better, but still not good enough for me.
“Lewis and I did end up with completely different cars in terms of aero package for the qualifying. It seemed to be working for him but not so much for me.”
Bottas finished the third free practice session in fourth – a quarter of a second faster than team-mate Hamilton – but by the end of Qualifying this had stretched to a gap of nearly three quarters of a second in Hamilton’s favour. This, Bottas says, will be looked at ahead of tomorrow’s race.
“Qualifying wasn’t going too bad until the second session. But in qualy three, everyone else could improve quite a bit but I couldn’t. We need to analyse everything, it is too early to say why I couldn’t improve from Q2 to Q3.
“I’m feeling very disappointed after the qualifying, but tomorrow is a new day. It is going to be a challenge for us; so far, our long run performance has not been great this weekend. But we will try and give it everything we can.”