Bottas dominated FP1 and FP2 on Friday for Mercedes, and said he felt “much happier” with the W12 car after struggling with rear instability during pre-season and weekend testing. opening end of the race in Bahrain.
But the Finn dropped to a disappointing eighth place in qualifying for the Grand Prix of Emilia Romagna, ending the session almost half a second behind his teammate Lewis Hamilton in pole position.
Bottas explained after qualifying that he felt Mercedes’ rear struggles return in Q3, leaving him unable to fully extract performance from the car.
Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes at the press conference
Photo by: FIA Pool
“P8 certainly not what I was aiming for today, and especially with the feeling at the start of qualifying,” said Bottas.
“First run Q3, I got into turn 2 and had a really sudden slam from the back, then it really continued in sector 1, and I lost a lot of time.
“In fact the same [happened] in the second round he was never there. I couldn’t trust the back of the car, and that was something I hadn’t felt during all of qualifying before that.
“I do not know what happened. So I need to investigate. Of course, this is disappointing.
But Bottas felt that unlike the rear struggles he fought in Bahrain, the Mercedes W12 now had more difficulty entering the corner.
“It was something different [to Bahrain]Said Bottas.
“Now it was more entering the turn, which I had never really had before.
“So yes, first we have to check that everything is fine with the car. It was not ideal.
The result left Bottas facing a backlash on the pitch on Sunday on a track where it is traditionally quite difficult to overtake.
He also left Mercedes facing the prospect of Red Bull splitting their strategies to beat pole sitter Hamilton, with Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen starting second and third respectively.
Asked about the prospect of fighting the Red Bulls alone on Sunday, Hamilton said he enjoyed the challenge.
“It’s great, well, we have both Red Bulls there,” Hamilton said.
“I think that will definitely make the strategy more difficult and that it will be a real challenge tomorrow because they have a good race pace. I think their pace was the strongest in the long term yesterday.