Valtteri Bottas edged out his Mercedes teammate and championship leader Lewis Hamilton on Saturday to win pole position for the Formula One Russian Grand Prix.
Bottas was 0.145 seconds faster than Hamilton and 0.56 better than Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who is 40 points behind Hamilton in the title contest.
“It feels good, it still wasn’t easy. It takes concentration, ”said Bottas, who took his first career victory in Russia last year.
Hamilton had been the fastest in the first two qualifying sessions, but went out on his last lap.
“Naturally, it was intense, it always is,” he said. “My last two laps weren’t special, but you can’t always hit the mark.”
The difficult weekend continued for Vettel, whose Ferrari team is going through work to keep up with Mercedes, which brought further improvements to Russia.
Vettel said Ferrari “didn’t have the pace” to challenge Mercedes in qualifying, but that he hoped to clinch victory with a good start on Sunday.
«They are very fast, so we will see. It’s a long race, ”said Vettel. “I felt that the car ran well, and that makes me optimistic for Sunday.”
Vettel said he told Botta he wanted to match what the Finn did last year. On that occasion, Botta took the lead after starting third on the grid _ beating Vettel on pole _ and took the win.
“I reminded him of what happened last year and told him maybe we can turn it around,” Vettel said. “If there is a space, I attack.”
Daniel Ricciardo’s and Max Verstappen’s Red Bulls received grid penalties for Saturday’s race, as did the two Toro Rossos and Fernando Alonso’s McLaren.