Valtteri Bottas will start Sunday’s Brazilian Formula 1 Grand Prix from pole position ahead of Ferrari duo Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen, after Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton crashed heavily just minutes into qualifying at Interlagos.
Having missed out on a clean sweep in practice when Bottas edged him in FP3 by just 0.003 seconds, Hamilton lost control of his car through Ferradura and slid sideways into the barriers at Laranjinha in Q1.
Fortunately the newly-crowned four-time World Champion emerged from his car unscathed, however his F1W08 suffered heavy damage that will require major repairs.
His accident, along with improved pace from Ferrari, made for a tense battle for pole with Bottas and Vettel trading fastest times throughout the session’s three phases.
Vettel held provisional pole after the first Q3 run with a time of 1:08.360, just before a few spots of rain began to fall.
That should have given the Ferrari driver the ascendancy, but the rain failed to intensify. With track temperatures cooling slightly, Bottas pulled out all stops and clocked a 1:08.322 on his second run to nose ahead of Vettel, who failed to improve on his next attempt.
The third pole position of his career was a welcome boost for Bottas, who has endured an indifferent second half of his first year at Mercedes.
Red Bull Racing was unable to extract the pace from its TAG Heuer-badged Renault engines, meaning Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo (who takes a 10-place grid penalty) could do no better than fourth- and fifth-fastest respectively.
Ricciardo importantly managed to sneak into Q3 on a Soft compound run, which will open the Australian’s strategic options for Sunday’s race ahead of his grid penalty.
Behind the top five, Sergio Pérez led the ‘best of the rest’ charge for Force India, with the Mexican finishing ahead of McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, Renault pairing Nico Hülkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr. and Williams’ Felipe Massa.
Massa, who will contest the penultimate Grand Prix of his career before retiring from the sport, accused Sainz Jr. of blocking him during Q3, however the FIA Stewards did not penalise the Renault driver.
Esteban Ocon surprised by failing to make it into Q3, qualifying eleventh fastest ahead of Haas pair Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, who were split by the second McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne.
Toro Rosso newcomer Brendon Hartley made it into Q2 in back-to-back events, but opted not to post a time in the second phase of qualifying given he will incur a grid penalty for power unit changes.
The New Zealander outpaced teammate Pierre Gasly by six-hundredths of a second to nudge the Frenchman out of Q2 contention. Gasly was also pipped by Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein in an ultra-close Q1 session.
After being forced to stop in FP3 with a gearbox failure, Williams rookie Lance Stroll was back out on track in his repaired FW40 but could do no better than outpacing the second Sauber of Marcus Ericsson, who was the slowest runner to set a time.
Sunday’s 71-lap Brazilian Grand Prix will begin at 14:00 local time.
|FORMULA 1 GRANDE PRÊMIO HEINEKEN DO BRASIL 2017 – QUALIFYING RESULTS|
|Q3 Qualifiers||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Tyre|
|1.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08||1:08.322|
|2.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF70H||1:08.360||+ 0.038|
|3.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari SF70H||1:08.538||+ 0.216|
|4.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13||1:08.925||+ 0.603|
|5.||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13||1:09.330||+ 1.008|
|6.||Sergio Pérez||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10||1:09.598||+ 1.276|
|7.||Fernando Alonso||McLaren-Honda MCL32||1:09.617||+ 1.295|
|8.||Nico Hülkenberg||Renault Sport F1 Team RS17||1:09.703||+ 1.381|
|9.||Carlos Sainz Jr||Renault Sport F1 Team RS17||1:09.805||+ 1.483|
|10.||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40||1:09.841||+ 1.519|
|Q2 Qualifiers||Team / Entry||Time||Gap**||Tyre|
|11.||Esteban Ocon||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10||1:09.830||+ 1.336|
|12.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17||1:09.879||+ 1.385|
|13.||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren-Honda MCL32||1:10.116||+ 1.622|
|14.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17||1:10.154||+ 1.660|
|15.||Brendon Hartley||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12||no time|
|Q1 Qualifiers||Team / Entry||Time||Gap*||Tyre|
|16.||Pascal Wehrlein||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36||1:10.678||+ 1.273|
|17.||Pierre Gasly||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12||1:10.686||+ 1.281|
|18.||Lance Stroll||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40||1:10.776||+ 1.371|
|19.||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36||1:10.875||+ 1.470|
|Outside 107%||Team / Entry||Time||Gap*||Tyre|
|DNQ.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08||no time|
* Denotes gap to fastest Q1 time of 1:09.405 posted by Kimi Räikkönen
** Denotes gap to fastest Q2 time of 1:08.494 posted by Sebastian Vettel
Daniel Ricciardo (5th) will serve a 10-place grid penalty for the use of new power unit elements above his car’s allocated limit.
Brendon Hartley (15th) will serve a 10-place grid penalty for the use of new power unit elements above his car’s allocated limit.
Pierre Gasly (17th) will serve a 25-place grid penalty for the use of new power unit elements above his car’s allocated limit.
Lance Stroll (18th) will serve a 5-place grid penalty for the use of a new gearbox.
Lewis Hamilton (DNQ) will start the race from the pit lane.
Image via Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team
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