Valtteri Bottas says bold set-up changes from Friday practice failed to produce key performance gains from his Mercedes as he remained off the pace of teammate Lewis Hamilton and both Ferrari drivers for an underwhelming fourth place in qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix.

Bottas conceded he had been struggling with cornering and balance with his Mercedes during Friday’s practice session at the high speed Monza track and switches for FP3 and qualifying resolved the issues but at the expense of less stability under braking.

As a result, Bottas felt he ‘didn’t have any clean laps’ in FP3 before wrecking his opening run in Q3 with a lock-up into the first turn which put him on the backfoot.

The Finnish driver had to be conservative in his final attack, while providing a tow to Mercedes partner Hamilton, which meant he could only rescue fourth place over half a second off pole-sitter Kimi Raikkonen for Ferrari.

“Today has been difficult,” Bottas accepted. “We tried some set-up changes in FP3 from yesterday, it was better in the corners but under braking we lost performance.

“It became very easy to make mistakes and have lock ups. I didn’t have any clean laps this morning. In qualifying, it was getting better and better, but for example Q3, first run, had a lock-up into Turn 1, lost half a second.

“Then it was difficult to approach the last run as I just needed some kind of a lap to secure fourth. I haven’t been very comfortable with the car.

“It is really high speed, low downforce, but still very hard braking. A lot of kerbing on the chicanes and exit kerbs, still you need some stability for high and medium speed for the last sector. It is difficult. It doesn’t feel like I’ve found the best set-up.”

Bottas preferred to remain upbeat and feels he can attack with not a lot to lose from fourth place by potentially using an alternate strategy set to be used to push his way into the podium fight.

“This was only qualifying and this weekend is not over, the race is tomorrow and we will try everything to put the Ferraris under pressure and challenge them,” he said. “We'll see what we can do strategy-wise and I think the first lap is going to be interesting as we might be able to get a bit of a tow-effect into Turn 1.”