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F1 | Mexico GP | Bottas: Q3 pole lap was “one of my best”, and says Mercedes will be “planning” on how to keep the Red Bulls behind on Sunday

The Finn took pole for the 19th time in his career on Saturday at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, beating title contenders Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen in the process, and is already thinking about the plans for a strong showing against the Red Bulls on Sunday.

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F1 | Mexico GP | Bottas: Q3 pole lap was “one of my best”, and says Mercedes will be “planning” on how to keep the Red Bulls behind on Sunday
Fuente imagen: Twitter @MercedesAMGF1

Valtteri Bottas stepped up to the task and led Mercedes’ charge in qualifying for the 2021 Mexico City GP, taking pole position with a lap of 1:15.875, that he set on his first flying lap of the final part of qualifying, bettering 7-time champion Hamilton by almost a 0.15s. The Red Bulls followed behind, as their Mexican charge stalled in qualifying, with Max Verstappen, surprisingly, over three tenths of a second back, and home favourite Sergio Perez a further tenth of a second behind.

After qualifying, Bottas explained what might be behind Mercedes’ sudden upturn in form, after what was a difficult weekend up until then, believing warmer conditions and tyre preparation was key for their most recent success:

"Since this morning, it’s been [about] fine-tuning, and not radical changes. It seemed like we were really behind Red Bull on single-lap this morning. Maybe the weather came to us a little bit – a bit warmer, maybe it was better.

"I think all the work we did with the tyre temperatures and optimizing the out-laps, suddenly the car started to come together in Q3."

The Finn says his first lap in the final segment of qualifying was among the best laps of his career, and that his Mercedes W12 was a joy to drive, a stark contrast to what Lewis Hamilton reported, after the Briton struggled and could only manage P2 on the grid.

“It was an awesome lap, especially my lap for the first run in Q3. I couldn’t quite match the same last sector in the second run.

"I think, honestly, that first run in Q3 was one of my best laps, and it’s a good feeling.

"With higher temperatures this afternoon, it came more our way. It was a joy to drive."

Pole position is not always desirable at the Mexican circuit, given the especially long run down to the first corner, a configuration that usually benefits everyone behind the pole-sitter, as he punches a hole in the air for the chasing pack. Bottas is aware of this, and says Mercedes will definitely be “planning” how to maintain their positions at the start:

"It is a long, long straight, and for sure, the cars behind with the tow will have good opportunities. We’ll need a good start and at least, as a team, it’s great that we have two cars ahead, and hopefully we can try and keep our position somehow."

"The first thing we need to focus is the start, make sure we keep our positions as a team, to be one-two. And from my side, you never know what happens on lap one, first few corners, what is the situation. I very much need to focus on my race, and for sure we’ll be planning with Lewis how we can keep the Red Bulls behind."

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