Annoyed Bottas targeting podium
By Mat Coch
Sunday 12th September, 2021 - 4:19am
Sprint Qualifying winner Valtteri Bottas believe he can charge through the field to the podium in the Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix.
The Mercedes driver led Saturday’s 18-lap encounter in Monza from lights to flag, a result which would typically have seen him start from pole position on Sunday.
However, a new power unit and resulting penalties will instead see the Finn start the race from the rear of the grid.
“It’s been a perfect weekend so far, and then I have a grid penalty,” Bottas rued following Sprint Qualifying.
“But it’s good to see that we have a strong car here, good pace and I’ll be fighting tomorrow [to] come as high as I can.”
Mercedes has showed strong form throughout the weekend and is expected to enjoy a pace advantage in race trim.
Red Bull has struggled to match their title rival’s pace, and in qualifying went so far as to sacrifice Sergio Perez in an effort to bolster Max Verstappen’s chances.
That resulted in third on the grid for Sprint Qualifying, which will now become pole position for the race proper.
Lewis Hamilton will line up fourth in the other Mercedes, with the McLarens of Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris between he and the championship leader.
The McLaren duo have shown strong potential since opening practice in Italy, even though they fell off the back of both Bottas and Verstappen during Sprint Qualifying.
While Ricciardo charged to a comparatively lonely third place, Norris saw off the advances of Hamilton in a worrying preview of Sunday’s race for Mercedes.
A saving grace will be the addition of strategy, an element missing from the 30-minute hit out on Saturday, while teams will have free choice of tyre for the race start.
Bottas is therefore optimistic he can recover back to a solid points-paying result.
“Podium is possible,” he declared when asked what he could realistically achieve in the race from the back of the grid.
“Anything is possible to be honest. If you look at the race last year what happened, you never know, So I’ll keep pushing.”
He did, however, admit that he was annoyed not to be credited with pole position because of the power unit penalties, despite claiming provisional pole and finishing first in Sprint Qualifying.
“It’s annoying, you know, having done a good last two days and good performance, and then you kind of reset completely for the day after and start from the back,” he observed.
“But those kind of things, they’re out of my hands.
“I’m not going to waste too much energy or be too negative about it because there’s nothing absolutely I can do about it.
“[The] Only thing I can do is try my best and go full gas tomorrow.”
By reaching the chequered flag first, Bottas received three world championship points in Sprint Qualifying which he will keep despite dropping to the rear for the race proper.