Mercedes Valtteri Bottas has taken his second pole position of his career after beating Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel by less than a tenth in qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix. The Finn set his fastest lap early on in the session, going faster than the German who couldn’t respond to his best lap of the session.
Bottas has been in strong form all weekend and that continued as he put a good
Bottas’s team-mate Lewis Hamilton qualified third after a wobble on his final run in Q3, however, he already knew before the session he would drop back five places thanks to a gearbox change. But it wasn’t a clean lap anyway for the Brit, he made a mistake on the exit of turn four and duly aborted his final run.
Hamilton was the only one of the top ten drivers in Q2 who set his time on the slower supersoft tyres rather than the faster ultrasofts which should see him come through while the leaders pit. The second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen qualified fourth fastest, half a second off the pace.
Raikkonen will know going to the race he can play a key part in helping Vettel pile the pressure on Bottas who will not have Hamilton there to hold up the Ferrari’s. Also, the Scuderia will want to get the lead early on in the race. Red Bull was again the best the rest with Daniel Ricciardo out-qualifying team-mate Max Verstappen by a thousandth of a second.
Haas’s strong weekend continued as Romain Grosjean out-qualified his team-mate Kevin Magnussen. But the Frenchman brought out the yellow flags late in Q3, after his car came to a halt on the exit of Turn Three. Sergio Perez out qualified his Force India team-mate Esteban Ocon. They will be looking to avoid an incident in the race, following the controversial incidents in the previous two Grand Prix’s.
Carlos Sainz Jr’s Toro Rosso made Q3 for the first time since May’s Monaco GP and rounded out the top ten.
McLaren’s strong weekend continued with Fernando Alonso tenth, that was despite reverting to an older engine spec. The Spaniard was just a tenth outside the top ten and starts twelveth with his team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne thirteenth. Alonso was forced into reverting to the older power unit for Alonso’s car in qualifying after encountering problems with the MGU-H ahead of FP3.
Nico Hulkenberg was five thousandths of a second faster than Alonso and only missed out on Q3 by four thousandths of a second. Magnussen failed to get out of Q2, because during Q1 his Haas suffered a rear suspension failure mid-way through the opening session, meaning Haas had to settle for just one car in the top-ten shootout after a promising weekend.
Williams dismal weekend continued as both Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll failed to make it out of Q1. The team has struggled with finding the right balance on their car this weekend, hard then to believe just three years ago they were locking out the front row.
Marcus Ericsson got the better of Sauber team-mate Pascal Wehrlein, lapping only 0.249s away from Stroll, having been more than half a second off the next fastest car in final practice.