Valtteri Bottas has identified Kimi Raikkonen as his ‘main focus’ to beat at the United States Grand Prix after conceding he struggled to find pace jumps in the pole position shootout.

Bottas qualified fourth but will line up in third place for the US race following Sebastian Vettel’s grid penalty but found himself cut adrift from the battle for pole position at Circuit of the Americas.

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Both his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton and the Ferrari drivers lapped within one-tenth of each other but Bottas missed out at the end of Q3 by 0.379s.

Accepting he needs to play the team game to help Hamilton clinch the Formula 1 world title, Bottas says his target is to get ahead of Kimi Raikkonen at the start of the United States Grand Prix. Raikkonen starts on the faster ultrasoft tyres from second place with all his front-running rivals on the more durable but slower supersoft tyres.

“P3 is not a bad position to start from and my main focus will be to get past Kimi because we want to get the maximum number of points for the team,” Bottas said. “Both Lewis and I will be on the supersoft and Kimi between us will be on the ultras, so that should be interesting for the start.

“I think every team will go into Sunday with a number of question marks since we couldn't do any proper long runs, so we have only limited information on the tyres.”

Reflecting on his final Q3 lap, Bottas conceded he was unable to find the grip and performance from the ultrasoft tyres to increase his pace to match teammate Hamilton and the Ferraris and is searching for answers before tomorrow’s race.

“It was a pretty straightforward qualifying session all the way until the second run in Q3,” he said. “Everyone else improved much more on their second run, but I could not find more grip. You want the tyre pressures and temperatures to be in the optimum window for those qualifying laps.

“The first run in Q3 felt a little better, so we will have to look at the data and see if we managed to get the tyres into their optimum window for the second run as well.”

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