Valtteri Bottas says his only focus is winning his first race of the season after claiming pole position for the 2018 Russian Grand Prix.
The Finn stormed to his second pole of the season, beating Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by 0.145s. Bottas currently trails Hamilton by 110 points in the drivers’ championship and with Hamilton embroiled in an intense title fight with Sebastian Vettel, Mercedes is likely to put all of its efforts behind its lead driver.
When asked if he’s allowed to fight Hamilton for the victory and the prospect of team orders, Bottas replied: “My approach to the race tomorrow is definitely to try and win the race — you cannot have any other goal starting from pole. It’s just going to be, for sure, the aim.
“But, for sure we, as a team, we’re fighting for both championships, Lewis is leading the championship by quite a gap to Sebastian and a very big gap from me, so we have to keep those things in mind. My approach, starting the race, is trying to win, but we’ll see how it goes.”
Bottas’ first pole in Russia left him shaking when giving his thoughts to Paul di Resta on the grid afterwards. The Finn made a stunning start from third on the grid to take the lead in 2017 and he’s aware of the importance of making a similar start tomorrow.
“It was a nice lap in the end and I also managed to improve a bit,” Bottas added. “I don’t know what happened with Lewis’ as he aborted his lap, but it feels good I’ve still got a bit of shakes, it takes some concentration.
“Maybe I don’t look like but I’m pretty happy, but it’s only the first step in this weekend. It’s a massive long run from the start line into Turn One, so it’s going to be important to try and keep the position.’