Valtteri Bottas admits he found it "disappointing" not to have secured a place on the front row of the Formula 1 grid for the Bahrain Grand Prix as Mercedes struggled to match Ferrari for pace through qualifying on Saturday.

With teammate Lewis Hamilton receiving a five-place grid penalty following a gearbox change, Bottas was left to lead Mercedes' charge through qualifying, but could only take P3 behind the Ferrari duo of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.

The Finn finished 0.023 seconds shy of Raikkonen in second place, and admitted he was disappointed not to have broken onto the front row to improve Mercedes' chances of a first win of the season on Sunday.

"For us it is disappointing not to be on the first row. Ferrari was quicker today, but for sure we made some good progress during the weekend," Bottas said.

"We tried some things which didn’t work. That is why sometimes the gap was bigger. I think we have the right setup in the car for the race, so difficult to estimate with the race pace, still a long race tomorrow so anything can happen.

"We will definitely go for it and hopefully Lewis can come back to get some good points and we can put some pressure on these guys."

Mercedes appeared to have a healthy pace advantage over Ferrari in Australia, and Bottas conceded he was unsure why the tables appeared to have turned in the space of just two weeks.

"I don’t know what is going on. I agree we are not having the pace this weekend that we expected coming here, but we also didn’t have anything new since Melbourne," Bottas said.

"It is a very different circuit, different tarmac, different temperatures, so for sure we need to understand completely why. We are struggling a little bit with overheating issues with the tyres, less so in the evening sessions, but still we have work to do.

"Like we have been saying all through the beginning of the season, we are not miles away. Today Ferrari this weekend so far has been a quicker car and that is where we are.

"We were better in Australia and we need to understand why we were not quickest today, but for sure we still have tomorrow to see how the pace is."



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