Valtteri Bottas has claimed the second pole position of his Formula 1 career with an emphatic qualifying performance at the Austrian Grand Prix.
The Finn will start ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, while his teammate Lewis Hamilton qualified third-fastest but will line up eighth as a result of his five-place grid penalty.
Having gone quickest in the second phase of qualifying, Bottas produced a stellar 1:04.251 time – the fastest ever lap of the 4.3-kilometre Red Bull Ring circuit – to put him one-tenth of a second clear of Vettel and two-tenths faster than Hamilton.
The time ultimately proved untouchable as both Vettel and Hamilton made errors on their next runs at Turn 1. Hopes of a grandstand finish were then dashed when Romain Grosjean’s Haas ground to a halt at the exit of Turn 3, while Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen took a tour of the gravel trap.
With both drivers bringing out the yellow flags, the remaining drivers were forced to abort any fast laps they were on, which guaranteed Bottas would add to his maiden Grand Prix pole earned earlier this year in Bahrain.
A frustrated Hamilton, who lies 14 points adrift of Vettel in the championship standings, will uniquely be the only driver inside the top-ten to start Sunday’s race on Pirelli’s Super Soft tyres, while the rest of the runners around him will be shod on the Ultra Soft rubber.
Given his fourth-row starting position, the Englishman will need to do something different in order to work his way up the order at a track where the entire field was covered by less than two seconds on the stopwatch in Q1.
Fourth fastest overall was the second Ferrari of Kimi Räikkönen, who has run fractionally off Vettel’s pace all weekend. The Finn lines up ahead of the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Verstappen, with the latter suffering an mistake-ridden qualifying session.
Despite his late stoppage, Grosjean qualified a superb seventh-fastest in his Haas and should have been joined in Q3 by teammate Kevin Magnussen on the basis of the Dane’s early one-lap pace. Unfortunately for Magnussen, his car suffered a sudden left-rear suspension failure in Q1 that put him out of any further action.
The Force India duo of Sergio Pérez and Esteban Ocon qualified eighth and ninth-fastest respectively in another strong showing for the Silverstone squad, while Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr completed the top ten.
A number of drivers eliminated in Q2 had legitimate claims to make the top-ten shootout for pole. Among them was Nico Hülkenberg, who once again outshone Renault teammate Jolyon Palmer (who qualified a poor P16) and missed a Q3 berth by less than six-hundredths of a second.
Just 0.005 seconds behind was Fernando Alonso who, despite his McLaren being fitted with the ‘Spec 2’ Honda engine after his newer version developed a MGU-H problem overnight, delivered another impressive performance that underscored the strength of the MCL32 chassis at this circuit. His teammate Stoffel Vandoorne was a little over one-tenth of a second slower in thirteenth, running the newer ‘Spec 3’ power unit.
Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat was the slowest of the timed Q2 runners, with Magnussen – who was unable to run thanks to his suspension woes – securing fifteenth.
With the under pressure Palmer qualifying sixteenth-fastest, the back two rows of the grid are claimed by Williams and Sauber.
The latter was largely expected on the basis of their practice pace, although to the credit of Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein both managed to get much closer to the fastest time Hamilton posted in the session.
Williams’ performance marked a disastrous turnaround for the Grove squad, less than two weeks after its podium-winning pace was showcased in Azerbaijan. Given the power-dependent nature of the Red Bull Ring, the outfit’s ninth-row lockout highlighted to everyone that the upgrades fitted to its FW40 chassis have done nothing to improve the car.
Sunday’s 71-lap Austrian Grand Prix will begin at 14:00 local time (GMT +2).
|FORMULA 1 GROβER PREIS VON ÖSTERREICH 2017 – FINAL QUALIFYING RESULTS|
|Q3 Qualifiers||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Tyre|
|1.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08||1:04.251|
|2.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF70H||1:04.293||+ 0.042|
|3.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08||1:04.424||+ 0.173|
|4.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari SF70H||1:04.779||+ 0.528|
|5.||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13||1:04.896||+ 0.645|
|6.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13||1:04.983||+ 0.732|
|7.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17||1:05.480||+ 1.229|
|8.||Sergio Pérez||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10||1:05.605||+ 1.354|
|9.||Esteban Ocon||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10||1:05.674||+ 1.423|
|10.||Carlos Sainz Jr||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12||1:05.726||+ 1.475|
|Q2 Qualifiers||Team / Entry||Time||Gap**||Tyre|
|11.||Nico Hülkenberg||Renault Sport F1 Team RS17||1:05.597||+ 1.281|
|12.||Fernando Alonso||McLaren-Honda MCL32||1:06.603||+ 1.286|
|13.||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren-Honda MCL32||1:06.741||+ 1.425|
|14.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12||1:05.884||+ 1.568|
|15.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17||no time|
|Q1 Qualifiers||Team / Entry||Time||Gap*||Tyre|
|16.||Jolyon Palmer||Renault Sport F1 Team RS17||1:06.345||+ 1.281|
|17.||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40||1:06.534||+ 1.470|
|18.||Lance Stroll||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40||1:06.608||+ 1.544|
|19.||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36||1:06.857||+ 1.793|
|20.||Pascal Wehrlein||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36||1:07.011||+ 1.947|
* Denotes gap to fastest Q1 time of 1:05.064 posted by Lewis Hamilton
** Denotes gap to fastest Q2 time of 1:04.316 posted by Valtteri Bottas
- Lewis Hamilton will take a five-place grid penalty for fitting a replacement gearbox before it had completed six successive Grands Prix of use.
Image via Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team