Valtteri Bottas says setbacks like his performance in the final Canadian Grand Prix qualifying session hurt more now he is in a Formula 1 title fight with team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
Bottas spun on his first Q3 run, then had a poor lap on his second, and will start Sunday’s race sixth.
Like Mercedes stablemate Hamilton and the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc, Bottas will start on medium tyres – but will have to pass Daniel Ricciardo and Pierre Gasly, who qualified fourth and fifth and start on soft tyres, in order to catch them.
“I feel there are bigger stakes,” said Bottas. “Every loss hurts a bit more, but it’s normal.
“Then [you can have] a big high and it feels better. That’s how it goes but it’s still early days.
“I really need to maximise the points, that’s the only thing on my mind now.
“Sixth is where I start and I really need to make the most of it to keep myself in the title fight. That’s clearly the goal for tomorrow.
“A podium would be positive from sixth. In a way, luckily we’re on a track where overtaking is possible and makes good races. I need to aim to be on the podium.”
Bottas, who said he was lucky to avoid hitting a wall because “the car started to rotate a bit” when he spun, called his Q3 performance “shocking”.
“I make mistakes, it’s not my first time and won’t be my last,” he said.
“I felt like I had a really good exit out of Turn 2 on that lap, an upshift, and there was a bump at the same time, and a snap, I went a bit wide, touched the grass, and all I can do was try to save it and not touch the wall. It was a bit surprising on the upshift.
“The second run, it was pretty messy, so I lost already a bit of time at Turn 2, and Turn 3 and 4, and again [with] a lock-up in Turn 6, another one at the hairpin, so it was a bit of a mess.
“I probably lost a bit of the rhythm, and probably tried a bit too hard. It can happen when you’re on the back foot.
“But definitely a good evening for me to look at the mirror tonight, and really find out why these mistakes happened in Q3, because they shouldn’t have done.”