Valtteri Bottas has the opportunity to rival Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton at the Hungarian Grand Prix after qualifying second fastest behind the Briton.
Understandably, Hamilton was rather more pleased with Mercedes’ one-two than Bottas after he pipped the Finn to pole position with his final lap.
But, as was put to Bottas at the end of the session, the pair have a clear run to turn one and a chance to tear it up from the outset.
That appears to be what Bottas wants after Mercedes reined in a drag race between the two when Hamilton led in Germany last time out.
Bottas, 11 races without a win in Formula One, graciously answered questions on that decision earlier in the week, but stated that he still had license to attack Hamilton throughout the remainder of the season.
“It could have been worse. We are free to fight, so I’m looking forward to it,” he reiterated at qualifying on Saturday.
And so while team boss Toto Wolff celebrated a huge session, knocking the Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel into the second row, he may well have to keep an eye on his own drivers.
“If it’s dry, we have to be in front at the start,” Wolff told Sky Sports. “It’s a very long straight, so you need to be able to hold the position and see how it pans out.
“We’re going to do everything as a team in order to do that.”
NO HARD FEELINGS TOWARDS PEREZ
While Mercedes and Ferrari jostle for the title, chaos reigns in the midfield.
Force India, with reported debts of £159million, entered administration on Friday, seemingly prompted by action taken by driver Sergio Perez in a bid to recover monies owed to him.
Deputy team principal Bob Fernley was not willing to throw Perez – who qualified in 19th – under the bus, though.
“There can’t be any animosity [towards Perez],” he told Autosport. “Whatever happens, like everybody else, Checo is entitled to be paid.
“Unfortunately, we were not in a position to be able to pay him and patience runs out for everybody. That’s a process.
“I don’t think we, in any way, look negatively at him. The responsibility for payment is on the team, not on Checo. He’s been put in a difficult position. We have to respect his position and not criticise it.”
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)
4. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
5. Carlos Sainz (Renault)
6. Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso)
7. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
8. Brendon Hartley (Toro Rosso)
9. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
10. Romain Grosjean (Haas)
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 188
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 171 (-17)
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 131 (-57)
4. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 122 (-66)
5. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) 106 (-82)
1. Mercedes 310
2. Ferrari 302 (-8)
3. Red Bull 211 (-99)
4. Renault 80 (-230)
5. Force India 59 (-251)
2017: Sebastian Vettel
2016: Lewis Hamilton
2015: Sebastian Vettel
After a rain-soaked qualifying session, warmer, sunnier conditions are expected for race day on Sunday.