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Deja vu? Bottas edges Hamilton to Austrian F1 GP pole as Bulls squabble

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Deja vu? Bottas edges Hamilton to Austrian F1 GP pole as Bulls squabble
By:
Jun 30, 2018, 5:37 PM

Valtteri Bottas will look to challenge for his first win of the season after narrowly claiming back-to-back Austrian Grand Prix pole positions ahea...

Valtteri Bottas will look to challenge for his first win of the season after narrowly claiming back-to-back Austrian Grand Prix pole positions ahead of Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

Looking to give his championship aspirations a shot in the arm, Bottas secured his first pole position of the season by just 0.019 of a second over his team-mate, who had to recover from a poor first flying lap.

As they did in Paul Ricard, the Mercedes will start on the front row with the supersoft tyres, whilst Sebastian Vettel will once again start the race on the ultrasoft tyres, as will the sister Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, starting in fourth.

"The whole weekend we've been making good progress with the setup, we had the new bits this weekend for the car," said Bottas. "There's been some work to get the car well-balanced with those, and finally we did, and the car felt so good.

"In the last run, I knew that there was still a tenth or so that I could improve from the first run and I managed to find it. Apparently I needed it!

"[Tomorrow] I just need a good, clean start, nothing amazing, no need to be a hero in turn one, and then go for it.

"I can guarantee that I'm more hungry for this win than anybody on the grid now, so I'm really ready for it."

The Red Bulls, who have struggled to match the pace of the leaders, were almost both out-qualified by Haas' Romain Grosjean, but Verstappen edged ahead to take fifth on the grid ahead of the Frenchman and team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, who vented frustrations over the radio at having to provide a slipstream for his team-mate.

Qualifying session one

In the final few minutes of free practice three, Verstappen pulled over whilst out on track with a suspected electrical problem. However, the Dutchman was able to compete in qualifying, much to the relief of the thousands of fans in the dedicated Max Verstappen grandstand.

With the Pirelli tyres proving to be more than capable of being used for more than one flying lap, the first part of qualifying was a flurry of activity, with the two Mercedes narrowly leading the opening session ahead of a healthy mix of Ferrari, Red Bull and Haas cars. Ferrari highlighted the small differences in the compounds by only using the supersoft tyres, with all other drivers using the ultrasofts.

The surprise of the opening session was the progression of Williams' Lance Stroll, who squeezed through in fifteenth place to give the team only their second Q2 appearance in four races.

Stoffel Vandoorne was the first to miss out on Q2 and was once again out-qualified by his McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso. Force India's Sergio Perez would've expected to progress, but could only set a lap good enough for seventeenth.

The second Williams of Sergey Sirotkin, Toro Rosso's Brendon Hartley and Sauber's Marcus Ericsson also fell at the first hurdle.

Qualifying session two

As expected, some of the top six drivers attempted to progress into Q3 by using a set of the supersoft tyres.

The two Mercedes and the two Red Bulls set their best times on the supersoft tyre, whilst Ferrari opted for the ultrasoft tyres, with Vettel setting the pace in Q2 and several cars dipping into the 1:03 territory.

There were few surprises in Q2; both Haas and Renault cars progressed ahead of Esteban Ocon (Force India) and Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso).

Sauber's Charles Leclerc completed another strong qualifying session ahead of his team-mate, but he will start further down the grid after receiving a five-place grid drop for a change of gearbox. He qualified ahead of McLaren's Fernando Alonso and Williams' Lance Stroll.

Qualifying session three

With drivers exploring the limits of the Austrian circuit, Bottas was the man to place the car on provisional pole position with a strong banker lap, which alone would've been good enough for the front row.

Hamilton lost time with oversteer at turn three and a mistake for Vettel left the championship contenders with it all to do on their second flying laps. Haas' Romain Grosjean caused Red Bull major concern by placing his car in fourth place after the first runs.

With improvements being made across the board, the two Ferraris were mighty in the middle sector, but they fell short of the Mercedes cars over the rest of the lap, resulting in Vettel and Raikkonen only setting times good enough for the second row.

Safe in the knowledge that he had a very strong banker lap, Bottas hooked up an even better second lap with a 1:03.130, which turned out to be 0.019 of a second faster than Hamilton's second attempt.

In an interesting exchange of radio messages between Ricciardo and the Red Bull pit wall. With both cars sent onto the circuit at the same time, the Australian seemed unhappy at having to be the lead Red Bull, effectively attempting to create a slipstream for Verstappen.

It was Verstappen who spared Red Bull's blushes by pipping Grosjean to fifth place, but Ricciardo fell one tenth short of the Haas driver.

Speaking after qualifying, Ricciardo expressed his frustration to the media at having to be the lead Red Bull for all three of the qualifying runs. However, when Verstappen was asked about the arrangement, he believed that it was part of the agreement for this weekend's qualifying.

"I did it for the whole weekend in Paul Ricard, so I don't understand the fuss about it," responded Verstappen.

"Every weekend we swap, so it's normal. I did all the sessions in front of him at Paul Ricard so it comes around. He was running a bit more downforce, so I guess he was hoping for a toe.

"You have to be disciplined. I did it in Paul Ricard, so it's his turn here."

Magnussen completed a strong day for Haas by ending the session in eighth place, ahead of the Renault pairing of Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg.

AUSTRIAN GRAND PRIX, Qualifying

1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m03.130s

2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m03.149s 0.019s

3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m03.464s 0.334s

4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m03.660s 0.530s

5 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1m03.840s 0.710s

6 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m03.892s 0.762s

7 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m03.996s 0.866s

8 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1m04.051s 0.921s

9 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m04.725s 1.595s

10 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m05.019s 1.889s

11 Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 1m04.845s

12 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Honda 1m04.874s

13 Charles Leclerc Sauber/Ferrari 1m04.979s

14 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Renault 1m05.058s

15 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 1m05.286s

16 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Renault 1m05.271s

17 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m05.279s

18 Sergey Sirotkin Williams/Mercedes 1m05.322s

19 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso/Honda 1m05.366s

20 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m05.479s

By: Luke Murphy

All images: Motorsport Images

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Series Formula 1
Author Luke Murphy