Valtteri Bottas was buoyant after securing pole position at Interlagos, saying his plan “worked perfectly” in sprint qualifying.
The Mercedes driver managed to beat Max Verstappen into Turn 1 after starting on soft tyres in the sprint, and kept his lead throughout to earn his third pole position in four races.
While he was happy for his own success, the Finn also reserved praise for his team-mate Lewis Hamilton who made up a whopping 15 places in the sprint to finish fifth, but will drop back to P10 once another grid penalty is applied.
“It was a good one – everything worked as we planned,” said Bottas afterwards, quoted by Crash.net.
“We opted to start with the soft tyres because we knew the best chance to get the lead today was at the start, even if that would make the end of the race very tricky. But it worked perfectly.
“It wasn’t easy until the end, definitively the tyres started to be pretty finished, so it was just avoiding mistakes and trying to keep the focus. Today was a good day.
“I’m also pleased Lewis managed to get up to fifth place, so that means there will be plenty of opportunities for tomorrow and we can still, even with the issues this weekend, have a great result tomorrow.”
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Regarding the sprint as a whole, the Finn was able to scamper away at the start as Verstappen toiled in the early stages, and the drop in track temperature appeared to play into his hands as it helped make his soft tyres more durable and gave him the ability to keep the Red Bull behind.
With that, he added he was doing all he could to maximise what was underneath him for all 24 laps.
“I was just focusing on doing the fastest stint I could and that means managing the soft tyres,” Bottas said.
“Especially at the beginning I was trying to create a gap but without killing the tyres immediately, and then I was just trying to optimize the pace but there was quite a bit of management with the soft tyres today, especially in certain parts of the track.
“Towards the end I just tried to squeeze out every single bit I had of the tyre.”
The sprint weekend will offer every driver a free tyre choice at the start of the race, which will provide a mix of strategy options throughout the field.
But Bottas is not looking too far ahead and just hopes to take things step by step.
“Obviously starting from pole, hoping to keep the lead and go from there,” he said. “Tomorrow will be pretty open in terms of strategy for every team, we can start with whatever tyre and we will try and make the best plan we can.”