Valtteri Bottas qualified second on the grid for the German Grand Prix but felt Sebastian Vettel and Scuderia Ferrari just had too much for him at the Hockenheimring on Saturday afternoon.
The Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport driver felt his lap of 1:11.416s was a good one, especially in the final sector, but Vettel came through not long after to knock him off top spot by 0.204 seconds to take his fifth pole position of the season.
Bottas hopes that the work Mercedes has done in recent weeks on their starts pays off on Sunday, although he knows Ferrari themselves have been quick off the line this season.
“It felt like a good lap, especially in the last sector, but I don’t think pole was up for grabs for us today – Ferrari was just a bit quicker,” said Bottas. “It is going to be very close between us and them tomorrow; the race start and the strategy will decide the outcome.
“We’ve been working on our starts and made good progress, but the Ferraris have been producing really good starts this season, so we’ll find out if we have closed the gap.”
Bottas feels it was a shame to be down to just one car for the top ten shootout after team-mate Lewis Hamilton’s hydraulics issue at the end of the first segment, but he feels the reigning World Champion is more than capable of quickly moving up the order.
The Finn is also focused on making gains and getting ahead of Vettel on Sunday and secure his first victory of the season at the eleventh attempt.
“It was a shame that Lewis missed most of Qualifying,” said the Finn. “He will try and get as far up as possible, we’ve seen in the previous races that he’s capable of that.
“From my side, I will focus on getting that one position back – and the race start could be the best option. For us at Mercedes, Hockenheim is a home race, so I will give it my best tomorrow.”