Valtteri Bottas is surprised by Ferrari's pace at this weekend's Russian Grand Prix after the Italian team locked out the front row of the grid for the first time in nearly nine years.
Bottas was just 0.095s off Sebastian Vettel's pole position time in qualifying, but that was enough of a margin for Kimi Raikkonen to slot into in second ahead of the Mercedes driver.
The weekend had started with the paddock talking up Mercedes' chances of winning in Russia, but over the course of Friday and Saturday it has become increasingly clear that Ferrari is the team to beat.
"I think, me personally, I'm definitively surprised," Bottas said. "As a team, coming into this weekend, we were probably thinking we'd be better than [the last race] in Bahrain, but so far it hasn't turned out to be so good.
"Ferrari seems to be doing something better than us, so for sure it's disappointing for us not to be on pole. We made good improvements from yesterday to today but it was not enough and we still have work to do. Tomorrow it's a different story, it's going to be a long race and, again, it's difficult to predict but I think it's going to be close."
Asked to explain what had gone wrong for Mercedes, which has has had a car on the front row at every race since Singapore 2015, Bottas added: "I think before qualifying the only problems we had was to extract the most out of the Ultra Soft tyres. We made it better, but I don't know if the problem is the tyres or the car.
"For sure they have a very good car and we are struggling to compete with them, but we can. Tomorrow is another day and we'll do everything as a team to be in front of them."