Bottas 'sorry' for qualifying crash

Valtteri Bottas said sorry after he brought out the red flags with a crash early in the final qualifying session on Saturday.

Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas.   -  Getty Images

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas has apologised to his team after crashing out of qualifying at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Bottas collided with a wall at Turn 2 early in Q3, causing substantial damage to the car and putting himself at risk of a five-place grid penalty should a new gearbox be required.

It is a far from ideal start to the season for the Finn, who is fighting to retain his Silver Arrows seat for 2019.

"I think I was just pushing a bit too hard," he said. "I went wide in Turn 1 and the kerb was still a bit damp. I lost the rear of the car and hit the wall outside of Turn 2.

"It's very unfortunate and I feel sorry for the team because we have a really competitive car.

"It looked like it was damaged pretty badly, so I really hope we can fix it for the race.

"Overtaking is difficult on this track, but we'll try everything we can. Maybe it's a little easier this year with the added DRS zone, we'll find out tomorrow.

"We have a good car, so I'll try to fight back the best I can. Once we get the car in the window, it seems like it's really quick, so that's something positive from today."

Team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who put his Mercedes on pole ahead of Ferrari duo Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, sympathised with Bottas.

"I know how hard Valtteri has been working and I know the pain he feels right now, but he will recover," he added.

"He was very quick through practice and he has been putting a lot of effort into growing as a driver and as a member of the team.

"I have all the confidence in him to pull through again tomorrow."

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