Valtteri Bottas could offer no explanation for why he had been comprehensively beaten by Lewis Hamilton for pole position at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
It was still good enough for second position on the grid and will give Bottas a chance of out-dragging the World Champion down to the first corner at Sakhir.
But the 31-year-old admitted he found it “confusing” because he was unaware of any errors on his final lap or issues with the car.
“It felt good, that’s the problem,” said Bottas, who will be seeking a third win of 2020 which would cement second position in the World Championship standings ahead of Max Verstappen.
“When it feels good and that you’re extracting everything out of the car but the lap time is not there, and you see a gap of nearly three tenths, that’s the most confusing part.
“I can’t really say much at the moment. There were no mistakes and the last lap I thought was really good. It just lacked small things here and there, it was not one clear corner. At least it’s another front-row lockout for us.
“I knew what Lewis’ first lap in Q3 was and I think I beat that lap time and it felt like there wasn’t much more left, so I thought if he didn’t improve it could be close. But I heard he improved and I was surprised at the gap.
“I don’t know really and that’s the issue.”
LH 🤜🤛 VB
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) November 28, 2020
Bottas also revealed that he and Hamilton had gone in different directions on set-up and while that patently did not work for him in qualifying, he is clinging to the hope that there may be a payback in the race.
“It makes me wonder…we did drift into different set-ups and that can have an effect,” said Bottas, who did at least get ahead of Verstappen on his final run.
“But of course we’ll have a look at everything and I just hope my set-up is good tomorrow. I believe it should only be good for the race.
“You never know here. It will be a game of tyre management and being smart. I know there will be all the opportunities tomorrow.”