Valtteri Bottas feels he has a “good opportunity for some really good points” after taking fifth position in qualifying for Sunday's Italian Grand Prix, edging Daniel Ricciardo by just one thousandth of a second.
Bottas will now line-up on the clean side of the grid, directly behind Ferraris Sebastian Vettel in P3, while Ricciardo will be alongside him in his Red Bull.
“It was good, the whole qualifying session was very good. Like I said yesterday, the car has been, balance-wise, very good from the start of FP1. So it's been just a case of doing a bit of fine-tuning,” Bottas noted.
“That has given me the opportunity to go and look for those little details in lines. Since I started to push to the maximum in Q2 all the laps from there were very consistent, finding a few hundredths here and there. It's a nice feeling when you have a qualifying session like that. I managed to beat Ricciardo by just 0.001s to get the better side of the grid and that was good.”
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Asked if he was surprised to beat both Red Bulls, and if it was important that the Red Bulls had to use an extra set of tyres in Q2, he replied: “That was definitively a good thing for us. My lap in Q2 was good enough to get though with just one attempt, so I could save and have two new sets for Q3. That allowed me to improve a bit on the last set of tyres, which was important.
“But I have to say the car has been feeling quite good this weekend in the longer runs, a little bit better in terms of pace than in the short runs, so I hope it's the case tomorrow, because I think we have a good opportunity for some really good points.”
As for why Williams are so competitive, he added: “There's nothing new in the car for Spa and Monza. I think this track [just] suits our car better – that's most of it – and also the weekend here started really well. The gaps here are very, very small and if you get everything perfect you can gain a couple of places. It's tomorrow what counts, so we need to perform tomorrow.”
Looking to the race, Bottas is optimistic about his chances and reckons it might even be possible to fight with the Ferraris.
“I think we might have an opportunity here to challenge some cars in front. Not the Mercedes but maybe the Ferraris – that will be nice,” he confirmed. “But we don't know how much more pace they have compared to practice.
“From our numbers there could be the possibility for fighting with them, and if it's possible then we'll try.”
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Meanwhile, Bottas conceded that it will be important to do well, given Force India moved ahead of Williams in the Constructors' after last weekend's Belgian GP.
“Tomorrow's going to be very important in the battle with Force India. Now I have two cars between me and them, which is a great opportunity. Also, with [my team-mate] Felipe [Massa] starting from 11th place and a free tyre choice it could help in that battle. I just hope tomorrow we make all the right calls and things turn out well.”
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