‘Not really the best day’ for struggling Bottas

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Valtteri Bottas

Valtteri Bottas

Beaten by temporary team-mate George Russell in FP1 and FP2, Bottas admits that it wasn’t a good day for him in Bahrain.

The Finn has a new face across the garage for the Sakhir Grand Prix with Russell filling in for Lewis Hamilton, who is absent after testing positive for COVID-19.

Given it’s the Williams driver’s first time in the W11, Bottas was widely expected to be the lead Mercedes throughout the weekend, but that wasn’t the case on Friday, with Russell topping both sessions.

This is largely because Bottas failed to put in a clean, quick, flying lap in either of them, picking up damage early on in FP1 and exceeding track limits in FP2, thus having a purple lap time deleted.

Speaking in the paddock after FP2, he admitted that it was a difficult day for him.

“For me, it was quite a tricky day,” he said.

“In the first session, in the first run, the floor of the car broke. I went over the kerbs in Turn 8 so there was a big piece missing, so the rest of FP1 was a bit of a waste.

“FP2 felt quite okay. Obviously, I didn’t get any laps in on the soft tyre, I had one decent lap but that was deleted for track limits, so not really the best day.

“But at least the long runs were pretty consistent, although Red Bull on the medium tyre looked very quick.”

Valtteri Bottas and George Russell

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Bottas is usually something of a Friday specialist, often beating Hamilton in those sessions before the Brit gains the upper hand on Saturdays.

The Finn will now have to do that himself if he is to break Russell’s perfect head-to-head qualifying record in F1, and feels fairly confident about doing so, if he can find enough clear air on track.

That being said, he expects to have to fight not just his team-mate, but also the Red Bulls.

“Well, we’ll see tomorrow,” he said.

“Red Bull looked really competitive, George looked quick, and there’s still quite a bit of work to do from my side to get it all together for qualifying but it’s not bad.

“I think it’s going to be really important to get clear laps. I think F2 gave us a great example of how messy it can be at the end of qualifying so yeah, we need to prioritise the gaps.”

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