Valtteri Bottas delivered a stellar qualifying effort that put him on the pole for the Eifel Grand Prix on Saturday (Oct. 10). Bottas kept the Mercedes streak alive of claiming every pole of the 2020 Formula 1 season.
He bested his teammate Lewis Hamilton by over two tenths, a surprisingly large gap between the two.
The weekend as a whole has been a bit strange. Both Friday (Oct. 9) practices were canceled due to overcast and drizzly conditions. Because of safety regulations, the FIA called the practices off – owing to the stipulation that a medical helicopter needs to travel from track to hospital in 20 minutes and it could not.
The FIA has managed to figure a solution to this situation should the weather conditions return for the race (which is expected). The result is that any injured driver would be driven the first three kilometers off the mountain where the Nurburgring resides and then flown thereafter; a plan which meets the required time limit.
Because of the canceled practices, the Saturday session that precedes qualifying was the first time the drivers had a chance to feel out their cars, and just an hour to do so. Add in the fact that the ambient and air temps were on the cool side, making it difficult for the tires to grip the track, and the session appeared to be a bit tame.
Bottas led during the sole session and looked to be at ease on the track. As the season moves into its final third, Bottas needs to show this kind of speed if he has any hope of even giving Hamilton a fight in the championship. His win at the Russian GP helped to allow such a thought to emerge but he still sits 44 points behind.
Odds & Sods
- In a surprising last-minute move, Nico Hulkenberg became the super-sub again for Racing Point. Lance Stroll fell ill and the team needed the German driver to fill in, though he did so after missing the only practice and qualified last. Hulkenberg’s story is rather amusing as he got the call while having a coffee with a friend at the track. He had been scheduled to handle TV duties for German broadcasting.
- Whatever Red Bull has done to the RB16 looks to have worked this weekend. The new front wing seems to have helped both drivers as Verstappen was able to nip at Hamilton’s heels, while Albon qualified a respectable fifth. Verstappen’s effort appears similar to where he commonly starts but his pace was much improved. For Albon, his starting position is a big improvement over his usual spot.
- Speculation is growing that Toto Wolff will not be the team principal at Mercedes in 2021. Reports from F1, Sky Sports and Motorsport.com have all posited that there is an increased likelihood he will leave. The big question is what kind of effect Wolff’s departure might have on Hamilton, who has yet to sign a contract for next year. The thinking is that Hamilton will remain with the Silver Arrows but may sign a shorter contract as Wolff has been a big part of the team’s success, and Hamilton will want a quick out if things turn sour.
Eifel Grand Prix Qualifying Results
|3||33||Max Verstappen||RED BULL RACING HONDA||1:26.319||1:25.467||1:25.562||15|
|5||23||Alexander Albon||RED BULL RACING HONDA||1:27.126||1:26.285||1:26.047||15|
|8||4||Lando Norris||MCLAREN RENAULT||1:26.829||1:26.316||1:26.458||18|
|9||11||Sergio Perez||RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES||1:27.120||1:26.330||1:26.704||17|
|10||55||Carlos Sainz||MCLAREN RENAULT||1:27.378||1:26.361||1:26.709||20|
|12||10||Pierre Gasly||ALPHATAURI HONDA||1:27.072||1:26.776||16|
|13||26||Daniil Kvyat||ALPHATAURI HONDA||1:27.285||1:26.848||16|
|14||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||1:27.532||1:26.936||14|
|15||20||Kevin Magnussen||HAAS FERRARI||1:27.231||1:27.125||16|
|16||8||Romain Grosjean||HAAS FERRARI||1:27.552||10|
|17||63||George Russell||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||1:27.564||9|
|18||6||Nicholas Latifi||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||1:27.812||9|
|19||7||Kimi Räikkönen||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||1:27.817||8|
|20||27||Nico Hulkenberg||RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES||1:28.021||10|