MONZA, Italy (AP) — Valtteri Bottas is counting on giving the Mercedes front row of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton a good challenge if they find no more extra horsepower at the Italian Grand Prix.
Bottas has been one of Formula One’s surprise stories by climbing to fifth in the standings, overshadowed by the title tussle between Rosberg and Hamilton.
The Finn, groomed by Williams since 2010, will start third on the grid at Monza after achieving his third top-three qualifying position in four races.
Asked about his chances of a first F1 victory at the expense of the Mercedes duo, Bottas was optimistic.
“I really hope so,” he said. “From Friday to today they had a bit more pace. In qualifying, we expected that maybe we could be a little closer to them today, but yeah, I really hope so.
“We have a solid race pace, and it just depends how much more pace they have left than on Friday.”
Bottas was runner-up at Silverstone (to Hamilton) and Hockenheim (to Rosberg), and has podium finishes in four of his last five races. His worst finish this year has been eighth. He has 70 more points than more experienced teammate Felipe Massa.
KVYAT PAYS THE PENALTY
Daniil Kvyat became the first driver this season to fall foul of Formula One’s new engine regulations, costing him a 10-place grid penalty at the Italian GP.
Toro Rosso was forced to provide the Russian rookie with his sixth engine of the season on Friday night after a year dogged by reliability issues.
Under 2014 regulations, each driver is allowed to use no more than five of any of the six power unit components over the course of the season.
The 20-year-old Kvyat was 11th fastest in Saturday’s qualifying session at Monza, but will start the race from 21st on the grid.
HOME TROUBLES FOR FERRARI
After a difficult year for Ferrari, which also saw it replace team principal Stefano Domenicali with Marco Mattiacci, the Italian team was hoping for a positive weekend at its home grand prix.
However, Fernando Alonso could qualify only seventh, while teammate Kimi Raikkonen went out in Q2 after abandoning a lap due to traffic. The 2007 F1 champion placed 12th but will start 11th due to Daniil Kvyat’s penalty.
“I obviously wasn’t expecting that,” Raikkonen said. “Qualifying was not very good for me but overall the weekend has been maybe a bit better than we expected. I’ll try to have a much better day tomorrow.
“I can promise that we’ll try to do our best but this weekend is looking difficult for us. Yesterday went well, today less so, but tomorrow will be a different story.”
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