Portugal pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas is not interested in the “talk” of a Max Verstappen/Lewis Hamilton title battle – he needs “actions”.
During the recent Mercedes dominance, Hamilton has had only one title rival in the form of his team-mate Bottas, but with the Finn unable to mount a serious challenge he had become something of an afterthought early in 2021 with Verstappen and Red Bull now in the conversation.
But Bottas put his name back in contention by taking pole position for the Portuguese Grand Prix as Mercedes returned to their fearsome ways, locking out the front row with a buffer of four tenths of a second over Verstappen in P3.
And this is just the way Bottas likes it. While the “talk” about the title battle rumbles on, he focuses on the “actions”.
“Let them talk, I’m fine with that. I don’t need to say anything, I just need actions,” he told Sky F1 when asked if he had re-established himself in the title picture.
Bottas qualified all the way down in P8 for the last round at Imola after struggling with tyre temperatures, so was pleased to see the hard work he had put in to address this weakness, which had also impacted him in Bahrain, reward him handsomely.
“That’s more like how it should have been in the first couple of races,” he said.
“In Bahrain and Imola, the main issue had been the tyre warm-up and we put extra focus on that.
“I always knew hard work would pay off and eventually we would have the result, so it’s good to be on pole and I’m hoping for a good race tomorrow.”
📻 Riki: “Hard work mate!”
📻 VB: “ Ha! I told you it would pay off! Yes!!” #PortugueseGP
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) May 1, 2021
If Bottas is to win the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix then he knows he must “minimise mistakes”.
But he takes plenty of confidence into the race from his long runs in practice, and so for now will look to relax and focus his mind on the task at hand come Sunday.
“First of all I need a good start. I know the pace is good here, I had good confidence in the long runs so I need to focus on my job, getting the most out of every single situation and minimise the mistakes,” Bottas explained.
“I’ve looked at last year’s things so much already so that’s all in my head. I’ll just try to relax and focus on the main things for tomorrow.”