The Ferrari driver lost time after a wobble at Turn 1 in his first Q3 run and then made a decision to switch from supersofts to softs for his second and final attempt.
"I needed that pole", he said after stepping out the vehicle. I've not had pole for a while.
"I think it's still very close", he told reporters. I was trying to go for it in every sector.
Commenting on his performance in qualifying Bottas said he felt good in the vehicle, and that his focus was on getting the maximum possible from the race.
"The team has been working so hard so a huge thank you to everyone working hard back at the factory", he said. It was a very close qualifying. "Ferrari looked to be sandbagging because they could". It took everything to get this result. "We got through all the test runs we wanted".
Valtteri Bottas: "It was so close today, like it has been all weekend".
Vettel added: "I was happy with the lap". It is a shame it is only four hundreds of a second, but the race is tomorrow. I thought it was a lot worse than it was.
"Qualifying was good for me but not quite ideal - and it ended up very close on the final times", said Bottas. "But for us as a team this is a flawless result with two cars on the front row". We are a bit behind schedule on the updates but the important thing is that we will have new parts for all the races from now on. We saw that in testing and we saw it both yesterday and today.
Sebastian Vettel, as ever, was giving little away, his smile as inscrutable as ever.
Vettel, meanwhile, looks more comfortable despite having victory snatched from him in the final laps at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. We were quite ok this morning, trying to find the right direction.
"I didn't get a great feeling on that tire, on that set". However, it's the same for everyone.
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"So far we can be happy", Vettel said.
"At the start of the season they were very strong in Australia and then we took over but they were struggling". It will be a long race and the tires will be challenging, too.
"This is the vehicle we should have had in Australia. Obviously overtaking here is hard but nevertheless, I think it could be an exciting race". "I'm looking forward to the Spanish Grand Prix and hope the people will enjoy it". At that point, I was in a position where I had nothing to lose, so we made a decision to try something else.
Ferrari switched back to the soft tyres for the final run of the session to move back ahead of the Red Bull drivers, but it was not enough to beat either of the silver cars. In the end we managed to do a decent job, but obviously we are not satisfied with the result. I don't know. It is what it is.
"If it's within one tenth, a tenth and a half, you always think that maybe..."
"At the moment we are capitalising on surrounding circumstances that have hindered the outcome of a race".
"These conditions make it very hard to define where the set-up needs to go".
"Let's hope we have the same trust as in Baku where I could get everything out of the vehicle when I had to", he added. "I have zero comfortability. They felt pretty good in Q2".
The Mercedes duo tried out softs and super-softs, and cruised through without too much effort.
"The car's OK, the updates are working, I can feel the auto is better", he said.