Bottas targets Ricciardo scalp

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Valtteri Bottas says Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo is his prime target in the Bahrain Grand Prix, as the Williams driver admits Mercedes and Ferrari are out of reach.

Bottas will line up sixth on the Sakhir grid with the Australian just ahead of him. Although he was at a loss to explain how the Renault-powered RB12 ended up three tenths up his Mercedes-engined FW38 in Q3, the Finn is confident he can finish best of the rest in Sunday’s race.

“It was a very close in qualifying and it’s a shame one of the Red Bull got in front of us,” Bottas said. “I don’t think there were 0,3s to get in my last lap; I probably did a better lap in Q2 but I don’t think there were 0,3s I could take off my lap time in Q3 – no way.

“In normal conditions Mercedes and Ferrari are too far away but Red Bull is a good target. To try and beat them will be the goal.

“You can overtake and what’s good in the battle with Ricciardo is that we have quite a big advantage in top speed, so we’ll see if that helps.”

Williams sampled its new thumb-tip nose and front wing on Saturday, though only Felipe Massa was given the opportunity to run the upgrade in Bahrain. Bottas says the revamped design is yielding the expected results so far, and was naturally pleased to outqualify his team-mate even if it was by only two thousandths.

“I think we more or less maximised what we had and when you consider my car and Felipe’s were not identical, as he had the new front wing.

“I think the data suggests it’s doing what it should do, there’s more than a tenth of a second in there, so I’m looking forward to have it in China. Every little bit helps, so let’s see if it’s more than that in China.

“They struggled a bit with the balance of the car in FP3 when they put the new wing on, but they managed to fix it for qualifying as it was not a massive thing.”

REPORT: Hamilton pips Rosberg to Bahrain pole by 0.077s

AS IT HAPPENED: Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying

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