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Formula 1 Australian GP

Bottas blames wing choice for end of F1 Q3 appearances streak

Valtteri Bottas thinks a low-drag wing choice prompted by DRS changes at Albert Park triggered the end of his modern era Formula 1 record of Q3 appearances.

Bottas was left disappointed after the exit in the second qualifying segment ended his record of consecutive appearances in Q3 sessions at 103.

The Alfa Romeo driver, who started the first two races of 2022 with his new team in sixth and eighth positions, could manage only 12th place at Albert Park.

Bottas admitted that Alfa Romeo didn't quite have the pace in Melbourne, highlighting a late decision to switch to a smaller rear wing between FP3 and qualifying in response to the FIA's decision to remove one of the DRS zones.

"I had two good laps in Q2," Bottas said when asked by Motorsport.com about his session. "The first run and then second one was okay, but just not quick enough, just missing a few tenths, I guess.

"And it was a bit surprising, because I really thought we should be in Q3, but the only reason what I can think of now is we opted for smaller wing on my car since they changed the DRS zone.

"So especially it's better for the race, but for quali maybe I paid a small price for it. It was just based on lap times in FP3, and where we were, I think it was okay."

Bottas, however, said the removal of the DRS zone had a neutral impact on Alfa.

"For me, it was fine. Like no issues, really. And we haven't had big issues with porpoising. So it didn't really change anything for us. Just maybe that led to the decision changing the wing, which I think is right for tomorrow, but I'm not sure about today."

While he still holds the modern era record of Q3 appearances under the current system, the Finn was frustrated to end his run just a few races short of Alain Prost's total of 109 consecutive appearances in the top 10 in qualifying.

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C42

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C42

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

The Frenchman thus remains second on the all-time list, behind Ayrton Senna, who managed 137 in a row.

Bottas admitted that after the first two races he now expects to target a place in the top 10 every weekend.

"Yeah, that should be the goal, always being in Q3," he said. "And it is a bit disappointing in a way, but it is good, because that's where the car is. Now my record of 103 Q3s is over so maybe I can celebrate it tonight!

"I was really hoping to get to Montreal, where I would have passed Prost for top 10 appearances. But yeah, it's all good."

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Bottas admitted that slipping out of the top 10 indicated how competitive it is in the midfield at the moment, with any mistake proving costly.

"It is yeah, that midfield is so close that absolutely, if you miss something either with the set-up or driving immediately you pay the price. But it's exciting, it's going to be a nice battle tomorrow, no doubt.

"For sure I need to take opportunities, and I'm sure there will be opportunities and things happening. So hopefully, we'll have a clean race and get some points."

Bottas also took a new gearbox between FP3 and qualifying after the team suspected an issue. Under the new system of a pool of four the season, there is no penalty.

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