Valtteri Bottas admits his chance of winning the Mexican Grand Prix from pole position depends on “a circumstance” affecting Lewis Hamilton.
Both the Finn and Mercedes as a whole were surprised to claim the team’s first front-row since Hungary at a high-altitude circuit expected to suit Red Bull.
It puts Mercedes, and specifically Hamilton, in a strong position to boost their World Championship hopes, with the Briton aiming to reduce his 12-point deficit to Max Verstappen, who will start the race third ahead of his team-mate Sergio Perez.
With the season at a critical stage, Bottas knows team orders will be applied if he and Hamilton can maintain their first and second positions until the closing laps at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
But he refuses to believe victory for himself is impossible – even though that would obviously mean something going less than ideally for his team-mate.
“I’ll enjoy this pole for a bit and then switch my mind for tomorrow,” Bottas, who was seen receiving hearty congratulations from team boss Toto Wolff, told Sky F1.
“We need to speak with Lewis how we can maintain the lead as a team and keep the Red Bulls behind.
“You never know what the race situation will be. I’m 100% sure there could be a circumstance I can still win the race and I believe in that, I hope for that. But if not, then I will support Lewis and get the maximum points for us as a team.”
POLE FOR VB 👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/8o0qQWZJ18
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) November 6, 2021
Bottas, who said “Viva Mexico” over the team radio on hearing his pole position was confirmed, described his time of 1min 15.875sec as “an awesome lap – one of my best”.
The Turkish Grand Prix winner, who is leaving Mercedes to join Alfa Romeo at the end of the season, added: “It’s a good feeling. The car was a joy to drive.
“I think everything came together even better than I was expecting. I definitely surprised myself and the team was as well a bit surprised that we were actually one-two because we seemed a bit off in FP3.
“A really rewarding feeling that all the changes we made were in the right direction, and we remained calm and tried to execute the best we can out of the car, and it worked.”
The 32-year-old was also impressed with his unique pole position prize – instead of just the usual miniature Pirelli tyre, a replica of the helmet worn by the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio.
“I have no words, it’s amazing,” said Bottas. “I’ve driven Fangio’s car from ’52 and actually getting a replica helmet of his is pretty cool.”
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