Switching to an older engine cost Bottas ‘at least two tenths’ in qualifying – RaceFans

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Valtteri Bottas says he lost “at least two tenths” of a second in qualifying after switching to an older power unit due to reliability issues.

In his last qualifying session as a Mercedes driver, Bottas only managed to place sixth on the grid as he was overqualified by the two championship contenders, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, as well as Lando Norris, Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz Jnr.

Bottas believes there have been two main factors as to why he was only able to get a start on the third row while his teammate Hamilton will line up on the first row.

“I kind of hit a lap time limit,” Bottas said. “In Q2 I think I had my best lap time and I could never improve it. I felt like the more I tried, the more I felt like the setup didn’t contain any more.

“On my car, I went for a fairly smooth set-up, mechanically, and I think it’s really good for the race, but I was hoping it should still be fine for qualifying. But the grip was improving a lot, so that’s one thing.

“One factor is that we had to switch to an older power unit for today which I knew was, compared to yesterday, maybe at least two tenths. [slower]. We were more confident with this power unit for reliability.

After Red Bull successfully executed a planned boost for Verstappen with Perez slowing down down the straight to provide a tow for his teammate, Bottas said Mercedes had never considered a similar tactic.

“We never planned for that, because normally it can go wrong – at least for one of the drivers,” Bottas explained.

“We just focused on the laps and on a good pace. But, to be fair, Red Bull found a bit more in Q3 than we thought. So it was a bit of a surprise.

Verstappen’s pole position for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, decisive for tomorrow’s championship, came with the caveat that Red Bull will start the race on soft tires, while Hamilton will have medium tires for the first. relay. Bottas says he thinks mediums are the preferable option for the start of the race.

“After the third practice, the plan was always to start with the medium,” he said.

“We think it’s better for us, at least the first pit window is going to be a little bigger. So if we want or have to stay a long time, this is an opportunity. If you are on the app, they will start to degrade quite quickly.

Bottas could therefore come to play a decisive role if Verstappen comes out of the pits behind him during the race. “I’m ready to sacrifice my optimal race because we really want both titles and I want us to get both titles before we go,” he said. “So I will definitely do my part for both titles. “

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