Bottas claims pole in Austria ahead of Vettel; Raikonnen to start P3 due to Hamilton penalty
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas claimed pole at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria on Saturday, outpacing Ferrai’s Sebastian Vettel by .04 seconds in a truncated Q3. When Romain Grosjean’s Haas came to a halt in Sector 2 and brought out the yellow flag with time running out in that third qualifying session no other drivers had the opportunity to better Bottas’ fast time. That included his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton, who slotted in third fastest but was levied a 5-spot grid penalty for a pre-quali gearbox change and will therefore be pushed back to P8 on the grid. That is a blow to Hamilton’s aspirations of overhauling Vettel in the Dirvers’ standings, something he desperately wants to do after Vettel’s out-of-control antics two weeks ago in Azerbaijan. But the Englishman will be the only driver in the top 10 starting on the harder Supersoft Pirelli tires come race day so he and the team should have some strategic cards to play to help push his Silver Arrow back up to the sharp end of the field.
Vettel’s Ferrari stablemate Kimi Raikkonen was fourth quickest and moves up to P3 on the grid after Hamilton’s penalty. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo also gained a spot and will now start P4, as did his teammate Max Verstappen who will now start from P5. Grosjean was boosted to P6 on the grid despite his car conking out late in Q3.But with Grosjean’s teammate Kevin Magnussen suffering a suspension failure during Q1 Team Haas may have some reliability concerns that could come back to bite them in the race at this rigorous, high-curbed circuit.
Rounding out the Top 10, Sergio Perez was Hamilton’s last beneficiary and is bumped up to P7 while his increasingly estranged teammate Esteban Ocon starts P9. Carlos Sainz will start from 10th on the grid for Toro Rosso. Neither McLaren, Williams or Renault could get a car into Q3 so look for a mad scramble from the midfield as those drivers desperately try to make up ground and get into the points paying positions.
Top 10 qualifiers for the Austrian GP:
|5||3||RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER||1:05.854||1:05.161||1:04.896||22|
|6||33||RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER||1:05.779||1:04.948||1:04.983||16|
|8||11||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||1:05.975||1:05.435||1:05.605||21|
|9||31||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||1:06.033||1:05.550||1:05.674||22|
Tomorrow’s race pre-coverage begins at 7:30 AM Eastern and will air live on CNBC here in the States. Watching Hamilton try and force his way to the front to do battle with Vettel, his fierce Ferrari rival, should be worth the price of admission. Hope to see you then!