<
>

Valtteri Bottas: Beating Kimi Raikkonen in Q3 was key after penalties

play
Bottas finds form in Japan (1:02)

Despite his team mate dominating qualifying, Valtteri Bottas impressed in Japan and will be happy despite a grid penalty. (1:02)

After losing a front row start to a gearbox penalty incurred earlier in the weekend, Valtteri Bottas is taking comfort from the fact he will start the race several places ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.

F1's two Finns are likely to play a role in the championship battle for the final five races as rear-gunners for respective teammates Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. They also both go into Sunday's race with a gearbox penalty -- Mercedes did not feel Bottas' previous unit would have completed another race, so swapped it ahead of the weekend, while Ferrari was forced into a change after Raikkonen crashed out of FP3.

With Kimi Raikkonen only managing to finish Q3 in sixth position, Bottas, who finished second behind teammate Lewis Hamilton, feels he put himself in the better position to limit the damage.

"It's good to start ahead," Bottas said. "I think he also qualified on the soft in Q2 so we're most likely going to be on a similar strategy for the race, so definitely I've got an upper hand for the race in that way.

"But we need to see how their race pace is. It's going to be a long race. But just a real shame. It would have been better to start one and two as a team, that would have been nice, but it is what it is."

Bottas has endured a difficult spell since the end of F1's summer break but topped FP3 on Saturday morning, only to crash out of the session moments after setting his quickest lap. That gave Mercedes with a big repair job ahead of qualifying and Bottas was quick to praise his team for the work done to ensure he took part in the session.

"I want to say well done to Lewis for another pole and I really want to thank the team. They've done a great job through qualifying, always out at the right time on the track in perfect gaps.

"Everything went very smoothly so it allows us to really focus on the driving itself. But with the incident I had in practice three, there was some extra work for the guys, and they did really well to get the car together, it worked perfectly so I'm really thankful for that.