Valtteri Bottas thinks that he can recover from missing out on pole position for the French Grand Prix to Mercedes AMG Motorsport team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
Bottas was the fastest man in Free Practices 2 and 3 at Circuit Paul Ricard, and was less than six hundredths of a second adrift of Hamilton’s pace setting time in Friday morning’s first practice session.
But the Finn could not collate a strong enough lap in qualifying to prevent Hamilton from taking his 86th Formula 1 career pole and ended up 0.286 seconds slower than the five-time world champion.
Bottas said that the chicane combination of Turns 8 and 9 that splits the Mistral straight caused him the most problems in Qualifying 3, and a lack of slipstream on his final run further hindered his chances of pole.
“Overall, it’s been a pretty good weekend for me so far, but Lewis put in some really strong laps in Qualifying 3 which I was unfortunately unable to match,” Bottas said.
“I couldn’t get the corner combination of Turn 8 and 9 quite right and that’s where I lost one and a half tenths to him in the first run of Qualifying 3, otherwise our lap times looked pretty similar.
“On the second run, I had no tow on the straights which made it almost impossible to improve.”
With temperatures expected to rise above 30C on Sunday, tyre condition and management is set to be a pivotal factor in deciding the race.
Bottas, like Hamilton and many of the top 10, will start on the medium tyres instead of the troublesome soft compound.
The Finn was keen to note that no points are given for qualifying and that he is confident his good Paul Ricard form will translate into a close battle with championship leader Hamilton, who is 29 points ahead of Bottas in the Drivers’ standings.
“It looks like tomorrow will be challenging; the temperatures are forecasted to be very high which will make it tricky for the tyres, so it’s not going to be easy,” Bottas added.
“But it’s close, I feel good and the points will be given out tomorrow.”