Valtteri Bottas will start tomorrow’s Bahrain Grand Prix from P3. Lewis Hamilton set the fourth fastest time in Qualifying, but will start tomorrow’s race from P9 on the grid owing to a gearbox penalty. Valtteri completed one run on the Soft compound tyres in Q1, then two runs on the SuperSoft in both Q2 and Q3. Lewis completed one run on the SuperSoft compound tyre in Q1, one run on the Soft and the SuperSoft in Q2 and two runs on the SuperSoft in Q3.
It’s disappointing not to be in the first row. We’ve made some good progress through the weekend, but Ferrari was quicker today. We definitely have work to do at this type of circuits and in these kind of conditions. I think we have the right set-up of the car for the race, but it’s difficult to estimate the race pace. I think it’s going to be really closely matched between Ferrari, Red Bull and us, so it should be an interesting race. I learned a lot about tyre management last year at this track that I think I can use this year. We’ll definitely go for it tomorrow and hopefully Lewis can also come back to get some good points so we can keep the pressure on Ferrari.
Today wasn’t the best of days and tomorrow is going to be one of the hardest races for us in some time. We’ve been trying to get ahead of the Ferraris, but it has been tough, they just had the pace all weekend. It wasn’t the greatest of laps from my side and Ferrari had the edge as they often do in these hotter conditions. The goal for tomorrow is damage limitation. I’ve got the Soft tyre, so I should be able to go longer – it’s going to be interesting to see, there’s a couple of different strategies tomorrow. I’ll try and eke out every last bit of power and strength from this car. I don’t know what we are going to be able to achieve tomorrow, but I will give it everything I’ve got and hope that I can do something.
This was a difficult qualifying session for us but about what we expected after practice yesterday and today. Ferrari have always been strong in the hot conditions and they confirmed that with their one-two in qualifying, with pace that was just out of reach for both Valtteri and Lewis. We have said through the winter that the performance between the top teams is very close and this result simply confirmed it. Like always, we need to keep our feet on the ground, stay humble and keep working. The long runs in practice were very close between Ferrari, Red Bull and ourselves, so there is still much to play for tomorrow. But it’s clear from today that Ferrari will start as favourites.
Although we made a small step forward relative to our performance yesterday, we were disappointed to learn this afternoon that it was not enough to compete on level terms with Ferrari. However, we know from Friday’s long runs in practice that we have good tyre degradation, and there is every reason to expect a close race tomorrow, especially for Valtteri who will start from the clean side of the grid. With Lewis, we will need to be quite imaginative with the strategy to allow him to recover from the gearbox penalty – but this is a circuit where overtaking is possible, although never easy, and which will offer opportunities to make progress by starting on the soft compound.
Source: Mercedes-AMG F1