Valtteri Bottas was left ruing his error at the end of qualifying despite recovering to third place in Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix after failing to pass either Sebastian Vettel or Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton through the final stint of the race.

Bottas crashed hard at the end of Q3 on Saturday at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, leaving the Mercedes team to complete a significant rebuild of his car. It also meant Bottas could not improve on his final lap, forcing him to start the race from P6 on the grid.

Bottas ran a long first stint on a one-stop strategy to leapfrog two-stopping drivers Charles Leclerc and Alexander Albon, and was bearing down on both Vettel and race leader Hamilton entering the final 10 laps.

But Bottas could not get close enough to Vettel to attempt an overtake, leaving the Finn to settle for third place at the chequered flag.

“It feels good. It was a pretty disappointing day yesterday, and considering where we started, it was a strong day,” Bottas said after the race.

“I think we really maximised the strategy with both cars today, and also from my side, it felt like a strong race, so actually I really enjoyed it.

“It’s just a shame there was no opportunity for any overtakes at the end, even with a good pace, but you pay the price for a bad qualifying.”

Bottas explained how it was difficult to get close to Vettel through the corners once he got in the dirty air of the Ferrari car ahead, and that he stood little chance of making up the time on the straights.

“Once you get within 1.5 seconds, it’s so difficult to close in on those corners, especially in the last sector,” Bottas said.

“To Ferrari we would need to be so close to overtake them on the straight, so it was nearly impossible. But it could have been a lot worse.”

Mercedes scored a 1-3 finish by putting both its drivers on one-stop strategies, but Bottas revealed the team had anticipated more tyre wear than it ultimately experienced.

“We had a better tyre life than we predicted,” Bottas said.

“We thought it was going to be a two-stop at least, and it was an easy one-stop, so the tyre life was better. Maybe the warmer track temp today helped us.”

 

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