Valtteri Bottas admitted it was “annoying” to be pipped to pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix – and believes his best chance of winning will be off the start line.
The area where Bottas missed out was the final sector, matching and even bettering Hamilton’s pace in the first two sectors.
With overtaking not easy at the Barcelona venue, the long run to Turn 1 could be crucial – and Bottas thinks it may even prove decisive if Mercedes can produce greater race pace than at Silverstone last week when Max Verstappen’s Red Bull denied them victory in the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.
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“I knew it would be close with Lewis, as always,” said Bottas on Sky Sports after the qualifying session.
“On the first run, the lap he did was nice and clean, especially through Sector 3. All day I was struggling in that sector, it got better and better but not quite good enough. Of course it’s annoying, but he did a good job and for the team it’s another front row.”
Asked about his prospects for the race, he said: “I think the start will be my best opportunity. Yesterday my long runs were competitive so I will have the pace, but the start will be my best chance. It’s a long run to the first corner and I’ll be trying to get there first.”
Bottas later admitted he thought he had done enough to claim pole at the end of his final flying lap, only to subsequently learn he had just failed to go quicker.
RaceFans reported he had said to his team over the radio: “S**t, on my dash I was a tenth up.”
He confirmed afterwards: “I thought I was going to improve because when I crossed the line I was a tenth up from my previous time. But then obviously it went to zero.
“Maybe I just covered a bit more distance, that’s how the time delta works. I thought it was a bit better, the second run, but it wasn’t. I don’t think the track really changed.”
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