Valtteri Bottas admitted to feeling disappointed after losing his provisional front row start for Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix after a grid penalty for changing the gearbox on his Mercedes Formula 1 car.

Mercedes confirmed on Friday it had to change Bottas' gearbox, triggering a five-place grid drop that prompted the team to run an alternate tyre strategy through qualifying.

Anticipating a lower grid position than normal, Mercedes got Bottas through Q2 on the soft tyre to give him a longer first stint in the race, but he was able to charge to second place on the super-softs in the final moments of Q3.

Having also crashed in FP3, Bottas admitted it had not been a straightforward weekend, but was pleased with his pace and gradual improvements throughout qualifying.

"With the incident I had in FP3, there was some extra work for the guys, and they did really well to get the car together, it worked perfectly so I’m really thankful for that," Bottas said.

"It’s been a tricky weekend, not quite such a clean weekend so far. Going slightly over a kerb in FP3 can make a massive difference. I had to reset, go for it. I used the soft tyre in Q2, so that mixed my rhythm slightly I think. I could get some improvements step by step. The lap in the end, it was not perfect."

Bottas was pleased to qualify ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, who also took a five-place grid penalty and opted to mirror Bottas' Q2 tyre strategy, but could only take sixth in the final session.

"It’s good to start ahead. I think he also qualified on the soft in Q2 so we’re most likely going to be on a similar strategy for the race, so definitely I’ve got an upper hand for the race in that way," Bottas said.

"But we need to see how their race pace is. It’s going to be a long race.

"Just a real shame. It would have been better to start one and two as a team, that would have been nice, but it is what it is."



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