Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Singapore, 2019

Valtteri Bottas says he doesn’t understand why Lewis Hamilton overtook him immediately before they started their final flying laps in qualifying.

According to Bottas Mercedes did not plan the change of positions between their two drivers at the end of Q3. He said Hamilton’s decision to pass him at that point on the track compromised his tyre preparation on his out-lap.

“All weekend we needed to have proper out-laps to get the tyres switched on,” Bottas explained. “I only got that in Q1 and then I think first run of Q2 was also pretty OK. But after that [it was] always traffic-affected and then the laps were quite messy.

“The last run in Q3, it was not planned, I was slowing down because of the Red Bull ahead to get a bit of a gap. And I think Lewis didn’t know that the was a car ahead of me, he thought I’d just slowed down for fun.

“But obviously that was incorrect and he got ahead, so then I slowed. Again we’ve discussed that internally and try to make sure ways not to happen again.”

Hamilton also overtook Charles Leclerc under similar circumstances at the beginning of his first lap in Q3. Bottas said Mercedes needed to run quick tyre out-laps to optimise their tyres.

“I think we had the quickest out-laps from all the teams,” he said. “We needed that to get the tyres ready, especially the front tyres.”

Being unable to get his tyres into the right operating window meant they were “too much on a knife edge with the temps”, said Bottas.

“When you start the lap too cold it’s so easy to have snaps here and there. And then actually you build up the tyre temperature only on the surface with wheelspin and the grip is just not there.”

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