Valtteri Bottas will start the Mexican Grand Prix from fifth on the grid on Sunday, but the Finn was happy just be participating in the session after a hydraulics issue during final practice earlier in the day necessitated an engine change ahead of Qualifying.
The Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport driver stopped in the stadium section during FP3 and reverted to a different engine for the remainder of the weekend, although he escapes a penalty as he is using one he has previous utilised.
Despite easily making it through to the top ten shootout and on the Ultrasoft tyre as opposed to the Hypersoft, he was disappointed with his performance in Q3, ending four-tenths of a second off the pole time of Daniel Ricciardo, but at least he was pleased to be closer to the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing team than he was on Friday.
“The entire team did a really good job last night and today,” said Bottas. “It didn’t look great for us yesterday, but the car felt a lot better today; we were able to recover a lot of our performance.
“I also want to say thank you to our mechanics, they did an amazing job. In less than one and a half hours, they managed to take the car apart and change the engine – and the car worked well afterwards.
“Qualifying was pretty straightforward after the car was fixed, but I didn’t get a perfect lap together in Q3. It never felt as good as it did in the previous qualifying runs, but at least we’re a lot closer to the front than we were on Friday.”
Whilst feeling the front row was always likely to be out of reach on Saturday, he feels not starting right at the front could be an advantage heading into turn one on race day particularly against Sebastian Vettel and Scuderia Ferrari, and he hopes to make early gains from fifth on the grid.
“The first row was probably out of reach for us today, but at least our times were very close to those of Ferrari,” said the Finn. “There’s a long straight here at the start, so not starting from the front might actually be an advantage if we manage to get a tow from the cars in front of us.
“The race tomorrow should be good fun.”