Having spent five years alongside Sir Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes, Valtteri Bottas sees the peculiarity in watching the seven-time champion get knocked out in the first qualifying phase in Saudi Arabia.
Hamilton changed his set-up ahead of qualifying in Jeddah, but was eliminated in the first part as he set a lap good enough only for P16.
He ended the session eight tenths of a second slower than team-mate George Russell, who made it to Q3 along with Bottas.
It epitomised what has been an erratic Silver Arrows car of late after Russell ended qualifying in Bahrain last week a second adrift of the 37-year-old, and the Finn finds it strange.
“It’s weird to see. I would guess he had some kind of issue, I don’t know,” Bottas told RacingNews365.com.
The 32-year-old’s P8 in qualifying in Saudi Arabia means that he has now out-qualified both Russell and Hamilton this season, and he it taking great pleasure in competing with his old friends from Brackley.
“It is surprising to see them struggling, but it’s also nice to be able to battle with them,” he added.
Bottas turned down a return to Williams for a drive with the Zurich-based squad ahead of this season, and it has turned out to be a good move as the Mercedes-powered team flounder towards the back of the grid.
His pace has been exemplary thus far and, having taken on somewhat of a fulfilling leadership role alongside rookie Zhou Guanyu, he is pleased his choice has been vindicated.
“I think this was kind of the best-case scenario for our first season together that I could ever imagine, with the information I had,” he added.
“I’m really happy with the decision I made, and I’m happy overall as well. So yeah, [I’m] enjoying it.”
Sadly, Bottas was forced to retire in Jeddah, and he later revealed that the team had to take a precaution due to an overheating Ferrari engine.
“It was a good race until the engine temperature started to get up like that,” he explained, quoted by Formule1.nl.
“The temperature rose a bit at first, then suddenly quickly. I tried to get off the gas and ride in free air, but the danger of an engine problem remained,” Bottas added.