Valterri Bottas proved Saturday afternoon at the Red Bull Ring that this track was well suited for him, as the Finn took his first pole position of the season over Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by just 0.019 seconds in preparation for Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix at Spielberg.
Sebastian Vettel was third before receiving a three-place grid penalty due to impeding Carlos Sainz’s lap during qualifying.
Bottas was ecstatic afterwards and was eager to do well on race day.
“The whole weekend we have been making good progress with the set up,” said Bottas to the official Formula 1 website. “We had the new bits this weekend for the car, there has been some work to get the car well balanced with those – and finally we did it. We just need a good clean start. Nothing amazing. No need to be a hero in Turn 1. And then go for it. I can guarantee I’m more hungry for the win than anyone on the grid now. I’m really ready for it.”
Both Hamilton and Vettel took the opening two sessions, respectively, with such names as Fernando Alonso, Stoffel Vandoorne, Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez all out by the start of the final session. Hamilton had a better chance to overtake Bottas on one lap, but slid wide at turn two, the result of cold tire temperatures coming out of the pits. But nobody could match the Silver Arrows with both Red Bulls and Renaults not getting anywhere near the front of the grid, despite the new installation of the French MGU-K units.
Kimi Raikkonen just missed the top three but will start Sunday’s race on the [podium due to his teammate’s penalty, while Max Verstappen led the Red Bulls in fifth. The American Haas F1 Team did a fantastic run by placing Romain Grosjean in sixth, and Kevin Magnussen eighth. Daniel Ricciardo finished seventh in the second Red Bull, and the Renaults of Carlos Sainz Jr. and Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the top 10.
Being fourth in the world championship is somewhat of a disappointment for Bottas. But a win on Sunday will guarantee the Finn to move up the grid and challenge the top three. Bottas realizes that Saturday’s achievement is only temporary, though.
“The first lap was really good, but there was a tiny bit of track improvement for the second run,” he said. “It’s always difficult to say how much. I had some good laps in qualifying three. The car allowed me to push. I enjoyed it. It’s nice to have a good result, but it’s only qualifying. We need to enjoy a bit today but it’s tomorrow that counts.”
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