Valtteri Bottas says rectifying “many things” that were wrong with his Mercedes Formula 1 car was crucial to claiming pole position for the United States Grand Prix.

Bottas lagged behind Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton on Friday but completed a stunning turnaround to pip Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to pole by just 0.12s in Austin, ending Mercedes’ four-month wait for a pole in the process.

The Finn believes a number of issues with his car had hampered him throughout Friday’s running but said that changes made overnight resulted in his W10 feeling like “a different car” during final practice and qualifying.

“It definitely felt good putting that lap together in the beginning of Q3,” Bottas said.

“Obviously after yesterday, this was not an easy day to approach, as I had a difficult day on Friday.

“Luckily we found many things in the car that weren’t quite right also with the set-up direction, so we changed it completely, so the car felt a lot better this morning.

“Then we were just focusing on the things that matter and where I needed to improve, so I had a very clear vision in my mind how to do it, but then it was down to actually doing it and that lap felt really good.

“Even though I was a bit off in Q1 and Q2, I knew that it was somewhere there and I managed to find it.

“We actually found quite a few things in the car that weren’t quite right,” he added.

“There was a little bit with the set-up, I think I started to go a little bit in the wrong direction on tyre pressures and temperatures.

“We found some reasons for that quite big straight-line speed difference, which made quiet an impact on the pace in sector two, so when I started today, in FP3, it was like a different car and it felt normal.

“So I was happy again. I knew since the first run this morning that this could be a good day if we got everything right.”

In contrast, Hamilton struggled to a lowly fifth and was over two-tenths off the pace of his teammate, though the Briton remains on course to seal his sixth world title and needs to score just four points in Sunday’s race to wrap up the 2019 crown.

Asked how he plans to approach the race knowing he must win to have any chance of delaying Hamilton’s coronation, Bottas replied: “Lewis is going to be fighting hard.

“He always hates to lose and wants to win, like all of us, he’s leading the championship with a big margin, doesn’t need many points, so he would like to win the championship in a nice way, if and when it happens.

“Obviously I try to delay it as much as possible, but I can only focus on my own race, try to focus on winning the race, rather than in anyone else’s opinions or mindsets.

“I think as we’ve seen recently we’ve been normally competitive on Sundays, so it’s obviously very good to start from pole here, there are some corners where it is quite difficult to follow for those behind.

“I believe we have the pace and winning is going to be the only thing in my mind going into tomorrow. Only one very small part of the weekend is done, the big part that matters is tomorrow and I need to focus on that.”

 

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