Valtteri Bottas believes qualifying third for the Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix could prove to be advantageous given the long run down to Turn 2 on the opening lap in Sochi.

Bottas was unable to mount a challenge for pole position having led teammate Lewis Hamilton in Q1 and Q2.

The Finn will start the race from third as he was well beaten by Hamilton to pole, while Max Verstappen put in a mammoth lap at the end of the session to go second.

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Bottas claimed his maiden F1 win at the Sochi Autodrom back in 2017 from third on the grid and he’s hopeful he can replicate the start he made three years ago where he went from third to first on the opening lap.

“I remember I started once in third here and I know what happened then so, for sure, I’ll try to do the same,” Bottas said. “I really think I have the advantage in the first stint with the medium, so there’s still all to play for.”

Bottas was unsure why the gap to Hamilton was so large in qualifying having been unable to make gains as the track improved.

“Q3 was a tricky one,” Bottas added. “In the first run I didn’t feel my tyres were ready, so at the end of the out lap I had a big snap, so I lost already a couple of tenths on the run down into Turn 2 and when I got there I had a massive snap oversteer, so the tyres only came in, really, towards the end of the lap.

“So, I was just waiting for the second run and then there were no mistakes as such, in Turn 2 I had a tiny lock up and went a bit wide, but, to be honest, I don’t really get why I couldn’t match Lewis’ times in Q3. 

“It just didn’t feel I wasn’t gaining much grip from the previous sessions. I think even in Q2 it felt better, so a few question marks for me about what really happen.  Or maybe I was just playing games and wanted to start third.”