Valtteri Bottas was displeased with his performance during Saturday’s running at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, which culminated in a fourth-place grid slot for Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix.
The Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport driver had hoped for improvements from Friday’s running after some set-up changes that were aimed at improving their performance in the corners, and although his car was better in the turns, it had a negative effect when it came to braking and it left him unable to trust his brakes when it mattered.
Bottas ultimately ended more than half a second down on the pole position time set by Scuderia Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen, with both the second Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel and team-mate Lewis Hamilton also well clear of the Finn, although he was well clear of the rest of the field, led by Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen.
“The entire day was pretty difficult for me,” said Bottas. “We made some set-up changes for FP3; the car was better in the corners afterwards, but we lost performance under braking and it just became very easy to lock up the wheels.
“Obviously, on this high-speed track you need to be able to trust your brakes; unfortunately, I was never really able to do that.”
Bottas knows the weekend is far from lost from fourth on the grid, with the Finn still believing that Mercedes can take the fight to Ferrari at the front of the field, and he hopes to use the tow-effect on both Räikkönen and Vettel heading into turn one.
“Compared to FP3, the car felt a bit better in qualifying, but still not quite there,” admitted the Finn. “I made a mistake going into Turn 1 on the first lap in Q3 and after that it was difficult to really get the corner right in the second run.
“But this was only qualifying – this weekend is not over, the race is tomorrow and we will try everything to put the Ferraris under pressure and challenge them. We’ll see what we can do strategy-wise and I think the first lap is going to be interesting as we might be able to get a bit of a tow-effect into Turn one.”