Bottas, Hamilton both ‘smiling’ about third-row start

Jamie Woodhouse
Ex-Mercedes team-mates Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton talk. Bahrain, March 2022.

Former Mercedes team-mates Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton talking and smiling. Bahrain, March 2022.

Valtteri Bottas will join his former Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton on the third row in Bahrain – which he said had both of them smiling.

When Bottas moved on from Mercedes at the end of 2021, bringing his five-season stint with the team to a close to join Alfa Romeo, he probably would not have expected to be on the same row of the grid as Hamilton through pace alone any time soon.

But that is exactly what has happened at the first round of 2022 in Bahrain, thanks to a major move up the order from Alfa Romeo, spearheaded by Bottas, combined with Mercedes not being at their level of old.

The end result: Hamilton will start the Bahrain Grand Prix from P5, joined by Bottas on row three in P6.

“We are starting side by side, it’s pretty cool,” Bottas told reporters when asked for his reaction to starting alongside Hamilton.

“I just saw him and we were both smiling. It should be fun.

“If someone had told me in Bahrain we’d be starting side by side with Lewis, I’d take it. It’s the first session we would find out where we actually are.

“Yes, it makes me happy. It gives me a lot of hope – instead, if I would have finished P18, it would have been a slightly bigger mountain to climb.

“It’s still a mountain, but it’s not Mount Everest anymore.

“But yeah, this is the beginning, the starting point for our journey. Now we need to make sure we are looking ahead and trying to look forward rather than backwards. So it’s exciting.”

While there were question marks surrounding Alfa Romeo’s pace heading into qualifying, and whether the C42 was Q3 material, it was already clear Bottas was up to the task.

After all, he had featured in the last 101 Q3 sessions. He told his team he wanted that to become 102 in Bahrain and it was mission accomplished.

“I told the team this morning it’s time for 102 today, and they were all up for it. So yeah, it’s nice,” he said.


Nonetheless, P6 on the grid was still “a bit of a surprise”, but it will make for a good topic for conversation when he pays a visit to his former team boss at Mercedes, Toto Wolff.

Asked if he had spoken to Wolff yet, Bottas replied: “Not yet, I don’t have my phone. I’ll go and see him!”