Valtteri Bottas felt pleased to have been able to step up for Mercedes and grab Formula 1 pole for the Brazilian Grand Prix on Saturday after seeing world champion teammate Lewis Hamilton crash out early on.
Hamilton and Bottas looked poised to scrap with Ferrari racers Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel for pole at Interlagos after a close-fought final practice, only for Hamilton to crash out in Q1.
Bottas was left to fight the Ferrari duo alone, but took his third F1 pole with a stunning final lap in Q3 after seeing Vettel lose time following a mistake at the first corner.
The result came less than 24 hours after a number of Mercedes team members were held at gunpoint by robbers, making it a significant response.
“I feel good – still a bit shaky. It’s a good feeling,” Bottas said moments after stepping out of his car after qualifying.
“It was very exciting, so close between Sebastian and me, and also Kimi sometimes, in the qualifying, so I got a good lap in the end.
“It was a shame Lewis was out from the start but I’m happy I could step up for the team.”
“It’s really good to start on the pole here. We have a good car. It’s going to be a close race still with Ferrari, but I’d rather start from pole than, for example, from P3.
“I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Bottas will be joined on the front row of the grid by Vettel, with the Ferrari driver sitting 15 points clear in the race for second in the F1 drivers’ championship.