Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas claimed his first pole position of the 2018 Formula 1 season at the Red Bull Ring.
Bottas, whose previous pole position came in last year’s season finale in Abu Dhabi, hit the front in the Q3 top ten shootout with a lap of one minute, 03.264 seconds on his first run – almost half-a-second faster than nearest rival Kimi Raikkonen.
His team-mate Lewis Hamilton ran deep into the Turn 3 hairpin on his first run and ended up in third, but the final runs turned into a shootout between the two Silver Arrows drivers.
On his final lap, Bottas shaded Hamilton in the first and third sector, with Hamilton only two-thousandths faster in the middle sector – adding up to pole position by 19 thousandths of a second.
Sebastian Vettel made a mistake on his first Q3 attempt but jumped from seventh to third on his final run ahead of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.
The Ferraris will start Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix on the ultrasoft tyres having used them to set their Q2 times, while Hamilton and Bottas will have supersofts.
Romain Grosjean put in a stunning performance to seal fifth place on his first run in Q3.
Max Verstappen got ahead of him as Grosjean did not improve on his second set of ultrasofts, but the Haas will still start ahead of the second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo.
The Red Bulls made three attempts in Q3 after using supersofts to set their Q2 times.
Kevin Magnussen, in the second Haas, took eighth position ahead of Renault pairing Carlos Sainz Jr and Nico Hulkenberg.
Esteban Ocon ended up P11 after his final Q2 lap fell almost two-tenths of a second short of beating Hulkenberg, who improved by enough on his second run to jump ahead of the Force India.
Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly failed to improve on his second attempt and ended up P12 ahead of the Sauber of Charles Leclerc, who only found 0.003 seconds on his final flier.
Leclerc has been hit with a five-place grid penalty after suffering a gearbox failure in final practice, meaning he is set to start P18.
McLaren’s Fernando Alonso was set to improve on his first-run time when he ran wide at the final corner and lost bodywork on the kerb on his final lap. That left him P14.
Williams driver Lance Stroll, who did a good job to make Q2 for the first time since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix two months ago rounded out the top 15.
Stoffel Vandoorne was quickest of the drivers eliminated in Q1 thanks to Stroll’s last-minute lap relegating him to P16.
Vandoorne was one of a number of drivers whose final attempt was compromised by yellow flags in the middle sector, with Leclerc’s Sauber causing one by a visit through the Turn 4 gravel trap, although his first sector time was down on his personal best having also complained about traffic.
Force India’s Sergio Perez was P17, with radio messages suggesting he had some kind of energy recovery problem that possibly restricted his available power at least on his first run.
Williams driver Sergey Sirotkin had set his personal best first sector when the yellow flags hit in the middle sector, meaning he ended up P18 after three runs.
Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley also completed three runs, but he was unable to improve on his final run having fallen short of his previous best by 0.013 seconds.
Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson was slowest, a tenth of a second off Hartley. He had to abandon his final lap having set his personal best first sector.
So a well deserved pole position for Valtteri Bottas. It’s been a while since the Mercedes driver scored P1 so it’s great for the sport to see Bottas qualified ahead of the champions. Fingers crossed Valtteri can score his first victory this season come race day.
Austrian Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m03.130s
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m03.149s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m03.464s
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m03.660s
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 1m03.840s
6 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1m03.892s
7 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m03.996s
8 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m04.051s
9 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m04.725s
10 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m05.019s
11 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 1m04.845s
12 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1m04.874s
13 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 1m05.058s
14 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 1m05.286s
15 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 1m05.271s
16 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m05.279s
17 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 1m05.322s
18 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 1m04.979s
19 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Honda 1m05.366s
20 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1m05.479s