Emilia Romagna GP: Bottas Explains F1 Qualifying Struggles at Imola

Published 04/17/2021, 11:11 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – Bahrain Grand Prix – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain – March 27, 2021 Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas after qualifying in third place Pool via REUTERS/Lars Baron


The topsy-turvy qualifying at the Emilia Romagna GP had plenty of takeaways from it. Sergio Perez out-qualified his more fancied teammate in just his second race for the team. And while Lewis Hamilton took pole, his teammate, Valtteri Bottas was lagging far behind.

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On paper, the gap was between Hamilton and Bottas was less than 0.5 seconds, a testament to how close the teams have become this year. But he qualified way back in P8, one of his worst one-lap performances in a Mercedes race suit.

Formula One F1 – Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola, Italy – Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas in action during qualifying REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

But was it an unstable rear? Or was he nursing a hidden problem with his W12?

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Speaking after the race, it was clear that even he did not have the right answers to justify his poor Q3 session.

“Q1 and Q2 was feeling okay. I was very happy with the car and I knew exactly where to find the time in Q3, but it never came,” said Bottas.

“Q3, I had been snappy into turn 1 and lost a bit of time and the rear end, it was never there in that run. And the same thing in run 2, the rear was never there. A bit confused, I didn’t understand the issue. So, I need to have look.”

Difference between Red Bull and Mercedes will depend on the track: Valtteri Bottas

The battle between Mercedes and Red Bull is already shaping up to be the most exciting of this turbo-hybrid era. While Red Bull thrashed Mercedes in terms of pure car performance in Bahrain, Mercedes retook the lead in Imola.

Bottas also admitted to this fact in the post-qualifying interview.

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“We have been testing and had the first race in Bahrain. So, it is quite different to here. It is proof that the performance difference between teams, it can really swing by the track. And this clearly is the better track for us, even though the result for me is not reflecting that.

Formula One F1 – Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola, Italy – April 16, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in action during practice REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

The Finn will be under pressure going into the main race tomorrow. He knows that he needs to make up the places in the opening lap. Imola is a tough track to overtake and he can find the going getting tough in the middle of the pack.

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Bharat Aggarwal

757 articles

Bharat Aggarwal is a sports analyst for EssentiallySports, covering Formula 1 and NBA. A Delhi University graduate, Bharat has multi-year experience in sports writing, having closely worked with the content strategy aspect as well. Bharat Aggarwal supports Manchester United, Lewis Hamilton, Cristiano Ronaldo, Rafael Nadal, Dirk Nowitzki, Sachin Tendulkar, Ayrton Senna, Kristaps Porzingis, and Dallas Mavericks.

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