A confident Valtteri Bottas said he will be looking to break into the top five at Imola on Sunday, given the pace in his Alfa Romeo at the moment.
After a slow start in sprint qualifying, the Finn was able to pick his way back through the field and reclaim P8, having qualified in that slot on Friday.
But there was an added layer of success to how he ran at Imola, having missed out on FP2 running while his team did a complete chassis change on his C42, in a remarkable turnaround to get his car ready in time for the sprint race on Saturday.
Bottas lavished praise on his Alfa Romeo crew for putting his car back together again, and could take a lot of heart from how he was able to race at Imola.
Couple of points today – let’s get more tomorrow @alfaromeoorlen 👊
— Valtteri Bottas (@ValtteriBottas) April 23, 2022
He told Formula1.com after the sprint: “Yes, a difficult start. This time [there] was some wheelspin, so we need to take the learnings for tomorrow’s start.
“But afterwards, really pleased with the sprint race. I think the main thing [is] the team did a great job with the chassis change, and it was [a] huge job for the guys.
“Everything worked perfectly, so that was good, and it was nice to feel that we have a strong pace.
“I could really do some overtakes and I was catching the McLarens towards the end, so tomorrow should be fun.”
While team-mate Zhou Guanyu will have to start from the pit lane as a result of the damage from his sprint qualifying crash with Pierre Gasly, Bottas is in a better position to get a solid haul of points at Imola on Sunday.
But rather than looking over his shoulder, the former Mercedes driver holds loftier ambitions for himself and his team.
“Top five tomorrow,” he proclaimed when he was asked what’s possible for him. “I think that needs to be the target for us.
“We do have the pace for it if we get everything right, and also luckily the tyres lasted nicely today on our car.
“So it gives me hope for tomorrow, but first of all we need to take the learnings today and then move on.”