Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas will start tomorrow’s Canadian Grand Prix from the front row alongside polesitter Sebastian Vettel. But the Finn says that it’s the race strategy that could prove the decisive factor.

“Qualifying wise, obviously it was close with Ferrari,” Bottas said after qualifying. “It’s always annoying when its so close and we’re not ahead!

“It’s a good result, although it’s not perfect to start behind the Ferrari,” he continued. “But we knew that they would bring some improvements for this weekend.

“[It] was a pretty good qualifying session. I was able to find a lot of performance from FP3 to qualifying and it felt like I got everything out of the car.”

“Valtteri had a solid qualifying session,” reported the team’s chief race engineer Andrew Shovlin. “His first run in Q3 was strong and that left him less than a tenth off pole.

“His second run wasn’t quite as tidy, losing a little in turn two that he couldn’t make back around the remainder of the track.

“But he did a good job with what we have and he should be happy with his lap,” he added.

Bottas and Vettel will both be starting tomorrow’s race on the ultrasoft tyres that they used to set their best time in Q2. However Max Verstappen will start from third on the faster hypersofts.

That could give the Red Bull an advantage in the run down to the first corner, and might even decide the race. However, Bottas felt sure that Mercedes had made the right call.

  • Vettel flies to pole in Canada, as Hamilton slides to fourth

“We’re happy that we qualified on the ultrasoft tyre in Q2,” he insisted. “I think it’s the right choice for our car.

“It will be interesting to see how it does in the start of the race, especially because Red Bull will start on the hypersoft.

“Red Bull will also be a threat, but it’s cool to see three teams fighting for the win.

“Overall it seems like the margins are very small between the top three teams,” he predicted. “The strategy could really be the key.

“It should be an interesting race,” he added. “Starting from the first row is good for this race and happy to go for it tomorrow.”

Shovlin agreed with Bottas about the importance of strategy in tomorrow’s race.

“It’s going to be interesting at the front with the Red Bulls on the hypersoft compound, which looks to be quite fragile, and Mercedes and Ferrari on the ultrasofts.

“It’s also a race that rarely runs start to finish without a few incidents or safety cars,” he pointed out. “So there is plenty of opportunity likely to come our way if we can stay at the front and put some pressure on the cars around us.

“We are expecting to race well tomorrow,” he added. “We will be working hard tonight to look at the various opportunities in strategy that will give us the chance to win.”

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