Valtteri Bottas made a much welcomed return to winning ways at the Italian Grand Prix, clinching an easy sprint qualifying victory at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza. Team-mate Lewis Hamilton had a sprint to forget in fifth.
It was a perfect Saturday for Bottas, the Finnish driver cruised to victory ahead of Max Verstappen, adding three world championship points to his tally. Of course Bottas doesn’t receive pole position for Sunday’s main race after clinching the sprint victory, the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver will line-up from the back of the grid after taking an engine penalty.
Despite this Bottas is hopeful that it can be a positive fight from the back on Sunday, with overtaking being more than possible during the race.
“A good day in the office for me personally, it was a clean race and I had the pace. Feels like it has been a while since I’ve finished first in a race, so I am very happy. I had a good start and a clean restart as well, so those things were key for me. The car felt good throughout, and it was great to finish P1 today and get some points as well.
“Unfortunately, I’m starting from the back tomorrow, but the speed is there, so I’ll be fighting. There are overtaking opportunities here so I hope I can make my way up the grid and have a good race for the Team. It won’t be easy, but we have the pace and with the right strategy we can make something happen. I’ll give it everything, I can promise you that.”
“We lost valuable points today” – Lewis Hamilton
For world champion Lewis Hamilton it was a sprint qualifying to forget, the British driver had a heap of wheel-spin off the line and tumbled down the order.
This proved costly for Hamilton who failed to recover any places lost from the start, meaning that he received zero points from sprint qualifying unlike his title-rival Verstappen who collected two points. It means that Hamilton is now five points behind the Red Bull Racing driver going into Sunday’s race.
Hamilton is aware that starting fourth for Sunday’s race is not ideal, especially with Verstappen inheriting pole position, the world champion is aiming for damage limitation.
“Well done to Valtteri on a great drive. It was a frustrating day for me, with a bad start due to too much wheel spin and then not being able to recover from there. During the race, it was difficult to get close enough to overtake the McLarens so we’ll be looking into that as well. We lost valuable points today and we’ll need to work hard to take maximum points tomorrow.
“It’s not the outcome we wanted for today and we can’t afford days like these, especially when it is this close in the Championships. We have work to do to analyse today’s race and prepare for tomorrow. I hope we will be able to limit the damage, and I know Valtteri and I will come out fighting.”