The weekend had started off quite well for Valtteri Bottas in Sochi: he topped both free practice sessions on Friday and dominated Q1 and Q2 alongside his teammate this afternoon. Weather conditions appeared troubling this morning, rain was so heavy that FP3 was cancelled and they went out on a tricky track with Inters at the start of qualifying.
In Q3 the asphalt was drying off and George Russell was the first to switch for slicks. Most of the grid followed the same path and switched tyres, while Mercedes didn’t. The W12 was the very last car to go out on slicks, rather too late as there wasn’t enough time to warm them up properly.
“Q1 and Q2 were going well, we seemed to be strong in the Inter conditions but in the end when it started to dry, we came in and obviously we were hopeful to get two timed laps,” commented Bottas at the end of the session.
“In the end, we only got one and couldn’t get the tyres to work in one lap, it was too difficult to get the temperature into them. All the cars ahead of us got at least two laps and that was the issue.”
The Finn will be starting tomorrow’s race from 7th place and is hopeful to pull off a strong comeback, given how well the car has been performing in Russia.
“It’s not great but nowhere near over yet, we have a strong car and I’ve had strong pace all weekend. At least I’m not starting from the back like in Monza so hopefully we’ll be better and I can push on from P7.”
At the Italian GP he won the sprint qualifying, but had to start the race from the back of the grid after an engine change. On Sunday, however, he finished P3 behind Lando Norris and race winner Daniel Ricciardo.