After a disappointing weekend at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Valtteri Bottas returned with a vengeance and took pole at the Portuguese Grand Prix, 0.007s ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
“The whole weekend has been a so-so feeling with soft tyres, we’ve been feeling better with the medium,” said the Finn after qualifying.
“Tomorrow starting with the medium tyre, I think it’s good. It opens up opportunities that we can go pretty much as long as we want in the first stint.
“It’s a good feeling to be on pole position. It feels like it’s been been a while so it was nice to get a good qualifying. Getting the tyres to work, it’s been the weak point for me in the in the first two races.
“We’ve been working hard and it’s nice to see it’s paying off and it puts me in a good position for tomorrow,” concluded Bottas.
Although he lost pole by an extremely small margin, Lewis Hamilton is delighted that his team locked out the front row.
“It was a difficult session for everyone,” the Briton said.
“It’s not that easy here, particularly as it’s windy, it’s quite a slippery surface, so quite challenging for everyone.
“Quite a messy session from me. Q1 wasn’t good, Q2 I only had one good lap, and Q3 was pretty poor also.”
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“It was a great job by Valtteri and our team. I did not expect to be on the front row this weekend. We have to be happy with that.
“It was not the perfect lap but I gave it everything.”
However, the seven-time champion knows the team can’t rest on its laurels and needs to continue pushing if it aims to beat Red Bull in 2021.
“I don’t think we can ever be satisfied. What we exist to do is to continue to push forward but I’m definitely happy with the work we’ve been doing.”
With Verstappen only in P3, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff thinks the wind played a part in Red Bull’s failure to break the front row.
“I don’t know whether [Red Bull] is more susceptible to wind,” the Austrian told ServusTV.
“But it can catch you and make you look stupid with a gust. And then you lose one and a half tenths in a curve. So the times are very difficult to evaluate.”
Ultimately Wolff said the having two cars on the front row is “an unbelievable advantage if we can get away from the start just as well.”