Bottas scores first pole this season by beating Hamilton

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

5 thoughts to “Bottas scores first pole this season by beating Hamilton”

  1. Austrian Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by

    Lewis Hamilton stamped his authority on the Austrian hills on Friday and looked like the man to beat through final practice and the first two segments of qualifying. But it was his Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas who did the business when it mattered to snatch his first pole position of the season…

    Bottas’ first run in the qualifying top 10 shootout was majestic, with the Finn finishing an incredible half a second clear of the field. Admittedly, Hamilton had made a mistake, which increased the pressure for the final run.

    The reigning world champion upped the ante in that second run – but Bottas had a little more left in the tank, too – 0.019s in fact – to take a stunning pole, the fifth of his F1 career and his second in a row in Austria.

    Sebastian Vettel admitted to making mistakes on both his Q3 runs as he ended up third, ahead of Ferrari team mate Kimi Raikkonen with Max Verstappen slotting into fifth for Red Bull.

    Romain Grosjean is a man in need of a good result and he made the most of a track he seems to run well at as he took sixth, ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo with Haas team mate Kevin Magnussen taking eighth. The Renaults of Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg completed the top 10.

    Here’s how the sessions unfolded at the Red Bull Ring located in the foothills of the spectacular Styrian mountains…

    Williams have had a miserable campaign so far this year, with qualifying particularly painful. However, Lance Stroll gave the team some respite by sneaking into Q2 in the closing stages.

    There wasn’t so much luck for Sergio Perez, the only non-Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull driver to score a podium this season, as the Force India man failed to extricate himself from the drop zone.

    Fernando Alonso left it late to leap to safety, but his McLaren team mate couldn’t repeat the trick. He ended up 15th, with the other Williams of Sergey Sirotkin and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson joining him for an early bath.

    Up front, Ferrari opted for a different tyre strategy than rivals Mercedes and Red Bull as they sent Vettel and Raikkonen out on supersoft tyres rather than the ultrasoft tyres.

    They had no trouble getting through, with Raikkonen third and Vettel sixth, with Mercedes continuing their dominance in the Austrian hills with Bottas getting to within a tenth of pace-setter Hamilton.

    Mercedes and Red Bull mixed things up in Q2 by opting to run the supersofts, while rivals Ferrari went straight to the ultrasoft. Hamilton and Bottas slotted into the top two slots with ease, but it was so easy for Red Bull.

    Verstappen slotted into fifth, but Ricciardo’s first effort was only good enough for 11th as he struggled for front grip. After a cool-down lap, he went again and improved to ninth – but was forced to go out again.

    Everyone bar Verstappen and Grosjean – such was the pace of Haas – headed out for a second run, with Vettel fitting a fresh set of ultrasofts to snatch the quickest time.

    However, the four-time world champion is under investigation for allegedly impeding Sainz, who was on a hot lap when he appeared to get baulked by the slowing Ferrari.

    Ricciardo went slightly quicker to take eighth, while the Renaults of Sainz and Hulkenberg hauled themselves out of the drop zone in the closing moments at the expense of Force India’s Esteban Ocon and Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly.

    Leclerc was a strong 13th, seven places higher than Ericsson, but he will start Sunday’s race 18th having picked up a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change after problems in FP3.

    Alonso looked like he might edge into the top 10 shootout, but ran well wide at the penultimate corner and did the same thing at the final corner. He exited qualifying along with Stroll.

    Bottas appeared to have ripped up the formbook in the early part of Q3 as he topped the times by a staggering half a second. However, replays showed Hamilton got out of shape at the top of the hill at Turn 3 while Vettel ran wide at Turn 4, leading both to lose a bunch of time.

    Raikkonen popped into second to make it a Finnish one-two with Grosjean delivering a stunning lap to take fourth, nearly one second clear of Haas team mate Magnussen in eighth.

    There was tension at Red Bull as Ricciardo was told to “get on with it” on his out-lap after the Australian said there was no point “punching a hole” and giving a tow to team mate Verstappen.

    Neither could beat the Haas of Grosjean after the first run, slotting into sixth and seventh respectively. After stopping for a fresh set of tyres, everyone headed back out for a final run.

    Vettel moved up into second, but he was no match for the Mercedes – who both improved. However, it was Bottas, rather than Hamilton, who nailed the best lap of the day.

    The Finn secured his first pole position of the season, 0.019s ahead of Hamilton, with Vettel and Raikkonen locking out the second row for Ferrari. So often the bridesmaid in 2018, can Bottas finally get his first win of 2018? He’s certainly well placed to do just that….

  2. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel pinpoints deficit in qualifying to upgraded Mercedes. has the details.

    Sebastian Vettel believes Ferrari trailed Formula 1 rival Mercedes in both straightline speed and through fast corners in qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix.

    Valtteri Bottas headed a one-two for Mercedes at the Red Bull Ring, where the Finn and teammate Lewis Hamilton have use of a major aerodynamic upgrade.

    The significant car update follows Mercedes’ introduction of its ‘Spec 2.1’ engine in France last week, and Vettel ended up qualifying three tenths off the pace in third.

    Asked where Ferrari is losing out to Mercedes, Vettel said: “It’s very close, it’s not that many corners, but from what we’ve seen we’re losing a bit in sector one and then mostly it’s sector three.

    “Mercedes is very quick, very competitive, in Turn 7 [the fast left-hand part of the Esses at the start of the final sector.

    “They seem to be able to carry more speed up the hill. I think that’s one of our main losses.

    “It’s the high-speed Turn 7 and Turn 9, the second-to-last corner. It’s close, we’re not talking about much, but enough to get ahead.”

    Vettel, who is under investigation for impeding Carlos Sainz in qualifying, made an error on his first flying lap in Q3 that made it “not that easy to recover”.

    He said that meant there was more time to be found but said the Mercedes was still the fastest car in qualifying.

    Vettel believes the pendulum could yet swing back in his favour in the coming races, because Mercedes has introduced back-to-back upgrades for its package whereas Ferrari is “largely the same” as in France.

    “We have our own schedule in terms of new bits,” he said. “We are pushing as hard as we can, we need to make sure what we’re bringing to the car is making it faster.

    “It’s a constant challenge. For now, the last two qualifying sessions Mercedes has the edge a little bit.

    “It can turn around. We need to look at ourselves, there’s always something you can learn from what other people put on the car but that’s not just for Mercedes it’s for all the teams.”

    Hamilton said his own error at the start of Q3 hindered his bid to steal pole from Bottas, who he admitted “did a fantastic job and deserved the pole today”.

    “When you don’t have your first lap as a banker you’re kind of building from scratch for the second one,” said Hamilton.

    “It was quite close between us, which I’m happy about, and it’s still a one-two for the team.”

    Bottas said his strong first lap was a key foundation for his first pole of 2018.

    “It helps,” he said. “I could build on that on the second run and improve a little bit. The first lap was really good but there was a tiny bit of track improvement for the second run.

    “It’s always difficult to say how much but the second lap was very similar to the first.”

  3. Daniel Ricciardo says teammate Max Verstappen did not play “fair” in qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix after refusing to help give him a slipstream.

    Ricciardo was upset after suggesting that Red Bull could have had both cars further up the grid if he had been helped to a slipstream.

    Red Bull then suggested Verstappen move past Ricciardo as the Aussie slowed (see radio exchange below), but the Dutch driver did not agree to overtake.

    In the end, Verstappen qualified fifth, with Ricciardo two places further back, beaten also by the Haas of Romain Grosjean.

    Speaking to television cameras afterwards, Ricciardo made it clear how unhappy he was with the situation.

    “I’m not too impressed to be honest,” he said. “We had three runs and I was just punching a hole for everyone and I think if you get one run fair enough, each… I am not that happy that is all.”

    When asked to elaborate more on his gripe, Ricciardo said: “We could have been more fair. We could have been more fair.”

    Team radio exchange

    VERSTAPPEN: What is going on?

    TEAM: Overtake him, mate. Just overtake him.

    VERSTAPPEN: No. Last weekend I was in front and now he is in front. Come on man.

    TEAM: Max, overtake him mate.

    VERSTAPPEN: No. It is discipline.

    TEAM: Just focus Max.

    RICCIARDO: I guess we are not going one for one.

    TEAM: You have got to get a lap in mate.

    Verstappen has shrugged off Ricciardo’s complaints, though, and said that an established team policy of one driver running in front each weekend should have been respected.

    “We always agree before the weekend who is going in front,” said the Dutchman to Sky.

    “I was going in front in Paul Ricard, he was going the race before that in front.

    “So we just discussed that – this was his weekend to go in front. That’s how it is and, yeah. It’s very simple. Every run in Paul Ricard I was in front, so we have to do the same here.”

    Despite Ricciardo’s unhappiness, Verstappen did not think the situation between them would be too difficult.

    “We want to do the best qualifying possible, and of course you want to beat each other, and of course you want to take advantages from that,” he said.

    “But if they say ‘you have to drive in front for all qualifying’, you have to do it. That’s what I did in Paul Ricard, so of course it’s Daniel’s turn here.

    “Like I said, we always try to have the best possible position. But between us will be all good.”


  4. Daniel Ricciardo was unhappy that Max Verstappen refused to play the team game by helping each other in qualifying. Christian Horner added that there was “nothing to explain” over slipstreaming row. has the news story.

    Red Bull boss Christian Horner says he does not understand Daniel Ricciardo’s complaints over Max Verstappen about their qualifying tactics at the Austrian Grand Prix.

    Ricciardo was unhappy after the session after feeling that the team lost out the chance to lock out the third row of the grid because his teammate had declined to help offer him a slipstream.

    Horner insisted that his team’s policy had always been that one driver would be designated to run in front of the other on set weekends – and there was never a suggestion that the plan would be changed.

    Speaking to Sky, Horner appeared slightly baffled that there had been complaints over the matter.

    “They [the drivers] know the situation. There is nothing to explain,” he said about the controversy.

    Asked about the slipstreaming issue, Horner said: “We have a very simple policy here that has operated for the last seven years that we alternate from weekend to weekend who drives out of the garage first.

    “That is the only way to keep it as scrupulously fair from circuit to circuit. So this weekend it was Daniel’s time to drive out of the garage first in front of Max, and obviously he felt that Max might be benefiting from that.

    “So that is why he obviously started to back up a bit.”

    Horner was clear that there are a number of policies that the team imposes – which includes behaviour in team debriefs – to ensure that neither of its drivers are favoured.

    “The drivers know explicitly every weekend it alternates,” he added. “Last weekend it was Max drove out first, and Daniel would have followed him. Next weekend it will be the other way around.

    “Even in the debrief, from weekend to weekend, it varies on who talks first. So it is the way to keep it as scrupulously fair as we can.”

  5. UPDATE: Vettel handed grid penalty for impeding Sainz. has the full details.

    Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel has been penalised for impeding Carlos Sainz during the second segment of qualifying for Formula 1’s Austrian Grand Prix.

    The German had qualified in third but will be demoted to sixth on the grid, behind teammate Kimi Raikkonen, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and the Haas car of Romain Grosjean.

    Sainz was starting a last-ditch push lap in Q2 when he came up on the cruising Ferrari of Vettel on the exit of Turn 1, the Spaniard forced to move sharply to the left and go over the kerbs to avoid contact.

    Sainz drew alongside Vettel and gesticulated at the German after rejoining the track, and radioed to his Renault team: “I had to take a kerb to avoid him, I nearly crashed.”

    Both Vettel and Sainz would make it through to the final qualifying segment, where the former placed third and the latter took ninth place.

    Speaking to Spanish TV after the session, Sainz played down the impact of the run-in.

    “In the end it didn’t change my qualy much,” Sainz said.

    “It made me damage a front wing, which obviously costs money and it takes work to repair and you don’t know if the wing will continue to work as well as before.

    “But it didn’t affect me too much.

    “I think he simply didn’t see me. He didn’t do it on purpose. He wasn’t warned on the radio.”

    In the post-qualifying press conference, Vettel confirmed he was indeed not informed that Sainz would be coming up on a fast lap behind him.

    “I passed him on my fast lap in Turns 7 and 8 and I was looking down the main straight and I didn’t see him.

    “I was turning into Turn 1, trying again [to look] because I was thinking he must be there somewhere, I don’t know if he was pitting or starting his lap.

    “But as it turned out obviously he was trying to go for a fast lap. I couldn’t see him, I wasn’t told on the radio, so I can only apologise to him.

    “There was no intention. I was looking down the straight, I turned around Turn 1, I was done with my lap and just wanted to make sure and there was nothing [in the mirrors] after Turn 1, which was obvious because I saw in the replay that we were side-by-side.”

    The stewards, however, judged that Vettel not seeing Sainz was not enough to absolve him of blame.

    “It is the belief of the Stewards that notwithstanding the absence of a radio call, the driver of car 5 [Vettel], being aware of the issue of rear vision with his mirrors, should not have been so slow and on the racing line, during a slowdown lap in Qualification,” their explanation read.

    “Having reviewed all alleged impeding incidents since the beginning of 2016, the penalty of a drop of 3 grid positions is consistent with all other similar incidents.”

    In addition to the grid drop, Vettel received a penalty point on his license, taking him to six for the 12-month period.

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