Valtteri Bottas “surprised” by Ferrari’s step forward in qualifying

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Valtteri Bottas (pictured) looks on from the cockpit of his 2017 Mercedes W08.

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas has admitted Ferrari’s pace during Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying, which saw the Scuderia take just their third front-row lock out of 2017, has “surprised” him.

Bottas, who could only finish the session in P3, said he was “hoping that it going to be a really tight fight for the pole.” But his wishes weren’t answered; Bottas felt by the time Q3 rolled around, “[Ferrari] had the advantage.”

It was evident Ferrari had made a step forward; Vettel’s eventual pole time was two-and-a-half tenths ahead of Bottas best effort, which he thought was “quite good.”

“Overall I don’t think there was much more in it for us today,” Bottas subsequently revealed.

Ferrari’s domination was clear throughout the whole of Saturday. Apart from Q2, where he finished P2, Sebastian Vettel topped every official session.

And, after Friday’s practice sessions, you wouldn’t have thought this would be possible. Green Flag F1 posted on Facebook analysis of the long runs conducted by the front runners in FP2, which showed Red Bull and Mercedes with an overall pace advantage.

Ferrari’s dominant display in qualifying was rather timely too, as global motor media site, Motorsport.com questioned if “the championship tide turned against Ferrari” after their tyre disasters in last fortnight’s British Grand Prix.

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Sebastian Vettel (left) shakes hands with team mate Kimi Raikkonen after the pair locked out the front row of the grid for the third time in 2017.

The article, written by long-time Formula 1 reporter Adam Cooper, questioned if the race in Britain marked the time where Mercedes simply got their season together in terms of developmental and driver performance.

This sentiment was furthered enhanced by Motorsport.com this week when Formula 1 editor, Jonathon Noble, expressed his belief in the importance of Ferrari resuming their race winning form in Hungary.

“In fact, this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix will provide us with some key indicators about whether it is Mercedes rather than Ferrari that is now in the driving seat with regards to the fight for F1 glory,” wrote Noble.

It must be said though, Ferrari’s 1-2 in qualifying is only 50% of the job as points are only handed out during Sunday’s race.

Lewis Hamilton, however, believes the weekend is already finished; he admitted after Saturday’s qualifying disappointment that he is expecting an “easy breeze” for the two Ferrari’s during the Grand Prix.

Despite Hamilton’s comments, both Scuderia drivers refused to view the situation this way. Vettel told media after qualifying in regards to the upcoming race, “There’s a lot of hard work to do and we need to take it one step at a time.”

Kimi Raikkonen echoed those thoughts, saying, “Tomorrow we’ll have a long way to go to replicate today’s result!”


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