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'I had to risk it,' says Bottas after Mexico horror crash

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Mexico City (AFP)

Championship challenger Valtteri Bottas admitted he "had to risk it" when he buried his Mercedes into a trackside wall in a frantic conclusion to qualifying at the Mexican Grand Prix on Saturday.

"I knew that I had to risk it in the last run to gain positions, so I tried to squeeze everything out of the car," said Bottas who is the only driver who can deny teammate Lewis Hamilton from securing a sixth world title.

"The lap was good until the last corner where I went a bit wide on the exit on the dusty part of the track and that's where I lost it and hit the wall.

"I'm all okay, but I've unfortunately given the boys in the garage some extra work to do tonight. Hopefully we can avoid taking any penalties for tomorrow. It's annoying because looking at the times, I think I had a chance at qualifying third."

Bottas was checked out at the circuit medical centre after the crash with his team going on to post on Twitter: "He's OK! Valtteri Bottas has returned to the paddock. Great news."

Bottas qualified in sixth, two places behind Hamilton for Sunday's race, but could be hit by car problems following his crash at the high-speed Peraltada curve.

"Thankfully he's ok," said Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff. "But unfortunately his car took a bit of a beating.

"We're assessing the damage at the moment and hope that we don't have to change any parts that would result in a grid penalty. Lewis will start from P4 which is not ideal, but tomorrow will be all about tyre life, so this might create some opportunity for us."

Hamilton needs to outscore Bottas by 14 points to seal his sixth title success.

Hamilton said he would "give it everything" in his scrap for a podium finish and hoped to enjoy a close battle with pole sitter Max Verstappen of Red Bull and the two Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel.

Verstappen's performance in the final minutes of qualifying when he clocked an improved lap time on his second run was under scrutiny after the session as he ignored a waved yellow flag following Bottas’s crash.

The Dutchman, who could have faced a penalty if he was the subject of a stewards’ inquiry, said he did not care if the stewards deleted his lap time as his earlier fastest lap was still enough for him to claim pole.

Asked if he had obeyed the rules when he saw the yellow flag and reduced speed, he said: "It didn't look like it, did it?"

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