The Russian Grand Prix was always good stage for Valtteri Bottas. At the first Sochi race in 2014, when the Finn drove for Williams, he finished with the podium, in 3rd position. In 2016 he could get P4, while last year in Sochi Bottas won his first race in his career. Today Mercedes driver was absolutely unbeatable on the track and earned the second pole position in the current season.
“For sure it [pole] feels good. I’ve been only once on pole, earlier this year in Austria, so it’s been a bit long since last time, so it is a good feeling. Coming into this weekend I knew that normally this has been a pretty good track for me and again managed to get some good laps in qualifying and the car just felt really strong. As the times show, I think the team has done an exceptional job again, bringing new bits again at this race. We are just step-by-step improving this car, which is going to be really important for the rest of the year with the championship fight”.
The main favourite of the Russian stage Lewis Hamilton, who has here two victories and three podiums, surprisingly finished second. Lewis said he struggled a little bit and his teammate picked up quite a bit of pace.
“Big congratulations to Valtteri, he did a great job in Q3. It’s been a really good weekend so far, honestly. I really can’t complain. I don’t know where it really got away from me in Q3 but I struggled a little bit and Valtteri obviously picked up quite a bit of pace. The middle sector was where I was slacking, as I’d call it. Anyway, it’s great to have a one-two and it’s a long way down to Turn 1 so we’ll still have a fight at least tomorrow. It’s going to be a long race, for sure”.
Scuderia Ferrari, as it was predictably, looks weak in Sochi. Sebastian Vettel stated the team maximized its potential today. But at the same time Vettel believes in good results for Sunday, especially after last year’s race, when he was on the pole and Valtteri, being the 3rd, overtook him already on the first lap.
“You never know what’s going to happen. I think… I was joking with Valtteri earlier that he should remember what happened last year where he was third, I was on pole. But you never know. It depends on the start. It depends on so many things. So, we will see. As I said, we will go racing and try to do, obviously, our best. It’s been a bit of a tricky one for us. We didn’t have the pace by quite a big gap, which is a surprise but it is like this and we will fight as much as we can tomorrow”.
Answering the question, what was the main reason of Ferrari’s weak performance in qualifying, Sebastian said the balance of the car was pretty good, but a little mistake, was made by himself, spoiled his lap.
“I think the car was pretty good. The balance was pretty good. I think it peaked in Q3 just the way it should so I think we got everything we could. I had a tiny bit of a mistake because I knew I had half a second to find, not just a couple of hundredths, so should have been two-tenths up on the last lap – but yeah, I was pretty happy with the car. It’s not like there’s a big issue with car balance. I think we reached out full potential today”.