Bottas comes out on in Austrian GP qualifying

Valtteri Bottas narrowly beat Sebastian Vettel to pole position in the Austrian Grand Prix, while Lewis Hamilton will start no better than eighth place thanks to a gearbox penalty.

Bottas’s Mercedes led the Ferrari of championship leader Vettel by less than a tenth after the first runs in Q3, with Hamilton’s Mercedes 0.131 seconds further back in third.

All drivers lost their opportunity to improve on the second Q3 runs after Romain Grosjean’s Haas broke down at the exit of Turn 3 while he tried to adjust his engine settings, and Max Verstappen’s Red Bull spun into the gravel at the exit of Turn 7.

Bottas therefore secured his second pole in Formula 1, and will share the front row with team-mate Hamilton’s title rival Vettel.

Hamilton was already more than two tenths down on his earlier best through the first sector on his second lap and he also suffered a wobble on the exit of Turn 4, so would not likely have qualified better than third fastest.

He used the super-soft Pirelli to progress through Q2, so will start the race on an alternative tyre strategy following his five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change.

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was fourth quickest, just ahead of the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, who was struggling with oversteer through Turn 3 before his high-speed spin.

Grosjean ended up seventh quickest thanks to a strong first run, while Force India team-mates Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon were eighth and ninth, separated by less than a tenth.

Carlos Sainz’s Toro Rosso made Q3 for the first time since the Monaco Grand Prix and completes the top ten.

Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg only just failed to displace Ocon’s Force India from the top ten shootout in Q2, falling short by 0.047 seconds.

Hulkenberg was only five thousandths of a second quicker than Fernando Alonso’s Spec-2 engined McLaren-Honda, which failed to improve during its second run.

Alonso’s team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne, running the quicker Spec-3 Honda power unit, was happy to qualify P13, the 0.139 seconds gap to Alonso being the closest Vandoorne has managed to get to his illustrious team-mate so far this season.

Daniil Kvyat had a difficult qualifying session and ended up only P14 for Toro Rosso, while Kevin Magnussen ended up last of the Q2 runners, having failed to participate in that segment of qualifying after his Haas suffered a rear suspension failure in Q1.

Vandoorne escaped Q1 for only the second time this season, denying Renault’s Jolyon Palmer a place in Q2 by just 0.029 seconds with a late improvement.

Palmer failed to improve on his final lap, dropping nearly a tenth compared to his earlier best, so he wound up P16.

Williams endured its worst qualifying session of the season, with both drivers failing to escape Q1. This was such a big contrast to 2014, in which the team recorded a front row lock-out at the Red Bull Ring.

Felipe Massa was more than two tenths away from making the cut and was only P17, while team-mate Lance Stroll was another 0.074 seconds down in P18.

Marcus Ericsson got the better of Sauber team-mate Pascal Wehrlein, lapping only 0.249 seconds away from Stroll, having been more than half a second off the next fastest car in final practice.

So an anticlimax end to qualifying caused by a yellow flag. Bottas the winner in qualifying – his second pole position this season – but all focus are on Vettel and Hamilton following that bash in Baku. Sebastian is in a good position to score big thanks to second on the grid, while Lewis has work to do with eighth.

The Austrian Grand Prix is going to be fascinating in terms of the championship and supreme between the title rivals. Bring on the battle at the Red Bull Ring!

Austrian Grand Prix, qualifying positions:

1    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    1m04.251s
2    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m04.293s
3    Kimi Raikkonen       Ferrari    1m04.779s
4    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m04.896s
5    Max Verstappen        Red Bull-Renault    1m04.983s
6    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m05.480s
7    Sergio Perez      Force India-Mercedes    1m05.605s
8    Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes    1m04.424s*
9    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    1m05.674s
10    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m05.726s
11    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    1m05.597s
12    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m05.602s
13    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    1m05.741s
14    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m05.884s
15    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    No time
16    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1m06.345s
17    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m06.534s
18    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    1m06.608s
19    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m06.857s
20    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    1m07.011s

*Five-place grid penalty for changing gearbox

6 thoughts on “Bottas comes out on in Austrian GP qualifying

  1. Austrian Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by Formula1.com.

    Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas clinched his second F1 pole in Austria on Saturday, just four-hundredths of a second ahead of Ferrari’s championship leader, Sebastian Vettel. Lewis Hamilton was third in the sister Mercedes, but will be eighth on the grid tomorrow thanks to a five-place gearbox penalty.

    A late on-track stoppage for Haas’s Romain Grosjean (seventh) and then an off for Red Bull’s Max Verstappen (sixth) prevented improvements in the dying seconds of Q3. It left Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen fourth ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, while the Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon and Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz completed the top ten.

    Hamilton ran Pirelli’s ultrasoft tyres to head the supersoft-shod Vettel and Bottas initially in Q1, ahead of Verstappen and Ricciardo, his Mercedes’s brake system repaired after his FP3 dramas. First he did 1m 05.238s to Vettel’s 1m 05.585s, then 1m 05.064s, the fastest lap so far this weekend.

    Haas had set the early pace, but then Grosjean went off in Turn 6, and Kevin Magnussen crawled into the pits with suspension failure, the Dane thus unable to participate in Q2 despite a time good enough to carry him through.

    Raikkonen and Sainz subsequently moved to second and fourth on 1m 05.148s and 1m 05.675s respectively, each on utrasofts, as Grosjean claimed eighth. Further back Jolyon Palmer’s 1m 06.345s left him 16th, two-tenths down on Renault team mate Nico Hulkenberg. Thus he was the first runner not to make Q2.

    Then came the Williams duo after a complete disaster of a day saw Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll stuck on 1m 06.534s and 1m 06.608s respectively. That left them only ahead of the Saubers of Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein, on 1m 06.857s and 1m 07.011s.

    Ominously McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, who’d switched back to a Spec 2 Honda engine and been 13th overall, reported that he had “no more power.”

    Mercedes sent Hamilton out on supersofts initially in Q2 to give him the best possible race strategy with his gearbox penalty, and he put in a superb lap of 1m 04.800s before Bottas then went fastest on 1m 04.640s on ultrasofts. Vettel was third on ultrasofts on 1m 04.823s ahead of the similarly-shod Verstappen on 1m 04.948s.

    Vettel moved ahead of Hamilton with 1m 04.722s on his second run, and the Englishman didn’t improve, but Bottas cut down to 1m 04.316s to stay top.

    Further back, Hulkenberg failed to make Q3 with 1m 05.597s, ahead of the McLarens. Alonso found some power to do 1m 05.602s ahead of team mate Stoffel Vandoorne on 1m 05.741s, with Daniil Kvyat 14th for Toro Rosso on 1m 05.884s and Magnussen not running.

    After the first runs in Q3 Bottas and Hamilton were first and third on 1m 04.251s and 1m 04.424s, with Vettel on 1m 04.293s in second, all of them on ultrasofts, with Raikkonen fourth on 1m 04.779s from Ricciardo on 1m 04.896s and Verstappen on 1m 04.983s. That meant an eighth place start for Hamilton.

    It stayed that way. He ran wide in Turn 1 on his second effort, but when Grosjean ground to a halt and brought out the yellows in Sector 2 near Turn 3, nobody was going any faster. Meanwhile, Verstappen spun in Turn 8 and went bouncing into the gravel.
    Behind the top six, Grosjean maintained seventh with 1m 05,480s from the Force Indias of Perez and Ocon on1m 05.605s and 1m 05.674s, as Sainz rounded out the top 10 on 1m 05.726s.

    Thus the provisional grid reads: Bottas, Vettel; Raikkonen, Ricciardo; Verstappen, Grosjean; Perez, Hamilton; Ocon, Sainz; Hulkenberg, Alonso; Vandoorne, Kvyat; Magnussen, Palmer; Massa, Stroll; Ericsson, Wehrlein.

  2. The Mercedes drivers have admitted there is no point in backing up Sebastian Vettel in the race to improve Lewis Hamilton’s championship chances. Motorsport.com has the full story.

    Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton say it would not make sense for the Finn to try to slow Sebastian Vettel down during the Austrian Grand Prix.

    Bottas qualified on pole position at the Red Bull Ring as Hamilton, who has a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change, finished behind championship rival Vettel in third.

    The Briton, trailing Vettel by 14 points, will thus start the race from eighth place, six positions behind the Ferrari driver.

    Despite that, Hamilton insisted there was no point in Bottas trying to help him tomorrow by deliberately backing off Vettel on race day.

    “It makes no sense for Valtteri to slow down, so he will push as hard as he can to win the race,” he said.

    Bottas echoed his teammate’s feelings, saying trying to back Vettel up could prove costly.

    “From what I have seen in the pre-race strategy notes, that kind of plan is not on those notes,” said Bottas.

    “We need to focus on trying to have a good start to the race and we need to win the race.

    “Lewis can fight back from where he is starting. If you start playing games it gets tricky, if the car behind gets DRS and the slipstream, then with just one mistake they can get the win.”

    Hamilton, who finished second from ninth on the grid in 2014, admitted he is not thinking of victory tomorrow given Bottas’ pace and his starting position.

    “Valtteri has been quickest all weekend, so it’s not really in my mind at the moment,” he added.

    “I am pretty sure back then [2014] there was a bigger difference of speed delta with the other cars.

    “It is more unlikely than it was then, but I will give it everything I can and of course I will be happy if I get up there.”

  3. Fernando Alonso believes McLaren can now reach Formula 1’s top-10 Q3 qualifying shootout “in normal circumstances”, after a near miss in Austria on Saturday.

    Alonso qualified 12th for the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring, but was just 0.052s off 10th-placed Esteban Ocon of Force India in Q2.

    This was despite using an older specification of Honda engine, after a problem was detected on Friday night on his ‘Spec 3’ unit.

    “It was good,” said Alonso, whose only Q3 appearance this year occurred at the Spanish GP. “I’m happy with the laps and the performance today.

    “I think the car felt good all weekend, and I think this position is the maximum we could achieve today.

    “The team is working very hard to improve the situation, we bring I don’t know how many updates every race, new specs on the engine every time we can.

    “Now we are touching Q3 in normal circumstances, so that’s a positive note. But we still need to improve the reliability and we hope to see some more signs in the next couple of weeks.”

    When asked if he could score points on Sunday, Alonso replied: “Starting P12, we are already very close, so with a good start or good strategy you’re already in the points.

    “That’s the target.”

    Source: Motorsport.com

  4. Williams driver Felipe Massa was left feeling puzzled by the shocking lack of performance in qualifying. Motorsport.com has the story.

    Felipe Massa says he’s perplexed by Williams’ struggles in qualifying at the Red Bull Ring, three years on from his pole position at the track.

    Massa – who led a Williams qualifying lockout at Spielberg in 2014 – will start 17th, one place ahead of Azerbaijan GP podium-finishing teammate Lance Stroll.

    The Brazilian says the team needs to understand why it couldn’t ‘switch on’ the Pirelli tyres in qualifying when they were new.

    “We struggled the whole weekend to make these tyres work when they are new,” said Massa. “Just struggling massively.

    “Today was really tricky in qualifying to make the tyres work, it’s really disappointing because we’re not supposed to be where we are, we’re supposed to be more in the front fighting the proper way.

    “It’s strange, because on old tyres on the long run the car was behaving well yesterday, but just not on new tyres. We need to understand why.”

    Teammate Stroll was just 0.074s off Massa’s fastest lap, and also bemoaned a lack of balance on new rubber.

    “It’s just tough for us this weekend,” said Stroll. “We’ve been trying to work on the balance and improve the car, but we’re simply losing time in the high-speed corners compared to some of the other cars.

    “On the positive side I think our long runs were better than our qually runs – that gives us some hope going into tomorrow. But this was a hard day for the team.”

  5. Williams have been left mystified by their shortage of speed in Austria, after Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll were both knocked out in the first segment of qualifying – the first time that’s happened since the 2014 British Grand Prix.

    The disappointing performance, which consigns Massa and Stroll to 17th and 18th respectively on the grid for Sunday’s race, comes just three years after the team claimed a famous one-two in qualifying at the same track – and just two weeks on from their first podium of the season in Azerbaijan.

    “It wasn’t a good day for us. We simply weren’t quick enough, there’s not much more to say than that really,” said Williams’ Chief Technical Officer Paddy Lowe.

    “We’ve had good and bad balance through the weekend so far, but in the end it’s not about the balance, we just simply aren’t quick enough today. We did a lot of work overnight trying to understand the pace from yesterday but none of the things we’ve tried really adjust the fundamental issue, so we need to go away and analyse that further to see where we are.”

    Massa reckoned the team’s issues stemmed from a failure to get new sets of the ultrasoft tyres into the correct working window.

    “We’ve struggled the whole weekend to make the tyres work when they are new, just really struggled” he said.

    “Today was really tricky qualifying for me to make the tyres work. It’s really disappointing because we’re not supposed to be where we are – we’re supposed to be more at the front, fighting in a proper way. Tomorrow is a different day, and it’s strange because on the old tyres on the long run the car was behaving well yesterday, but not on the new tyres. We need to understand why.”

    Lowe echoed Massa’s sentiments that Williams will be stronger in the race, saying “When we ran high fuel yesterday we looked to be in our normal competitive position and so we’re hopeful we can make some progress during the race tomorrow.”

    Williams have scored points in all but two races this season and currently sit fifth in the constructors’ standings.

    Source: Formula1.com

  6. 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen admitted that qualifying could’ve been “an awful lot worse”. Motorsport.com has the full details.

    Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen believes he “made the most” of Austrian GP qualifying by placing third on the grid, despite his deficit to teammate Sebastian Vettel.

    In a Q3 shoot-out where the leading drivers were all denied an opportunity to improve their initial times by late yellow flags, Raikkonen came up 0.486s short of Vettel around the Red Bull Ring.

    He was also beaten by the Mercedes cars of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, but will start right behind the Bottas/Vettel front row due to Hamilton’s five-place grid penalty.

    Raikkonen suggested the result was good damage limitation after he struggled through Friday practice, placing sixth in FP1 and FP2.

    “Considering how difficult or bad – whichever way you want to look at it – the weekend has been, we’re going to start third place tomorrow so that’s at least something good,” Raikkonen said.

    “It could have been an awful lot worse. The car should be OK for the race. It’s not been very easy so far but I think we’re in a decent place to start tomorrow.”

    The Finn added that his situation improved dramatically between Friday and Saturday, but that he was still hampered by having “wasted a whole day”.

    He said: “We know what was going on [on Friday], but we don’t have to talk about it.

    “It got better this morning [in FP3] and then it’s a matter of figuring out the balance and the set-up and obviously we were a step behind but we made the most out of it today.”

    Despite being satisfied with the outcome, Raikkonen described his qualifying as “messy”.

    Aside from the yellow flags for Haas driver Romain Grosjean in Q3, the Finn also felt he was impeded by Renault’s Jolyon Palmer in Q1, which led to him switching from supersofts to ultrasofts for an unplanned second run.

    Describing the Palmer incident, Raikkonen said: “It was the second lap, the lap was OK, I was in the last corner, he slowed down, I had to slow down a lot and I had to use another set of tyres, which wasn’t planned. That wasn’t ideal.

    “The next one, Q2 was OK. Obviously we had to change the plan a bit. Then in Q3, it was not too bad.

    “There were some cars in the last sector [during the first push lap], the last three corners, which didn’t help. Then the second lap, there were yellow flags and I couldn’t do anything.”

    He added: “The car was good but it was a bit messy, qualifying, but I’m happy to start third and i think the car is fine.”

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