Valtteri Bottas says it will be “pretty cool” to start next to Lewis Hamilton at the Bahrain Grand Prix after he secured sixth place in qualifying. The Finn was also able to get one over his Mercedes replacement George Russell, who was only able to muster ninth place on the grid.
Alfa Romeo delivered one of the standout performances of qualifying with Bottas going sixth fastest and the Italian marques’ resurgence comes as Mercedes are struggling for performance.
“We’re starting side by side, it’s pretty cool,” Bottas said about lining up alongside his former team-mate Hamilton.
“I just saw him and we were both smiling. It should be fun. If somebody had told me in Bahrain we’re going to be starting side by side with Lewis, I’d take it.
“But yeah, this is the beginning, the starting point for our journey.
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Bottas claims he knew the top 10 was possible after a positive Friday practice.
But, the Finn was still not satisfied as he warned there was still a mountain to climb for the team. The result means Bottas continues his run of consecutive Q3 appearances to 102.
He said: “Yes, it makes me happy. It gives me a lot of hope – instead, if I would have finished P18, it would have been a slightly bigger mountain to climb. It’s still a mountain, but it’s not Mount Everest anymore. I told the team this morning that it’s time for 102 today, and they were all up for it. So yeah, it’s nice.”
Hamilton could be stuck in a battle with Bottas tomorrow after the Briton predicted he would not challenge near the front. He claimed Red Bull and Ferrari were in “another league” and suggested they would be almost impossible to beat.
Hamilton said: “My battles are with the guys behind most likely but of course I’ll try to be as fast as I can and get ahead. But their performance is quite ahead of us.”