Bottas Takes Second Career Pole in Austria
SPIELBERG, Austria—R.I.S.--Watching the emotional battle between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton did not deter Valterri Bottas, who posted a 1:04:251 final qualifying time which gave him his second career pole Saturday afternoon in preparation for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Austria at the Red Bull Ring. Vettel and Hamilton both finished in second and third places, respectively, but Hamilton in violation a day ago for illegally having his mechanics change his gearbox, will start the race from eighth position.
But for Bottas, who does not have a contract for next season, things did not seem to brake his concentration.
“What a special feeling.” Bottas said afterwards. “It's only the second pole for me and hopefully there's more to come. It was a good lap in Q3, if not quite perfect. Today was all about building up the confidence in the car. I got it set up nicely and it's great to get the second pole position of my career.”
Bottas did not waste time in that final session getting his second pole. By setting his best time early on, it gave many other drivers a chance to try and better it. Hamilton, Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen were set to come out for the final push in the last session, but just before any of them could make a final flying lap, Haas F1 Team lead driver Romain Grosjean stopped right on the track, prompting yellow flags to come out and ruin any other driver’s chances to better Bottas lap time.
Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg just missed out on a chance to qualify in the final session, but just did by 0.005 of a second to be eliminated in the second session. His teammate, Jolyon Palmer, kept his losing streak going, although he improved to finish 16th and was knocked out of the opening round. McLaren-Honda improved on their engine upgrades, but both Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne could only improve to be eliminated in the second session.
Raikkonen was the unluckiest of the top drivers, finishing fourth, while Red Bull drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen placed fifth and sixth, respectively. Grosjean, despite the last-minute spin, finished in seventh, while Force India’s Sergio Perez and Esetban Ocon were eighth and ninth. Carlos Sainz Jr. rounded up the final top ten position in his Toro Rosso.
Bottas was glad about his pole position, but realized that for Sunday’s race, he must ignore who is in contention for the title and be his own person on the circuit.
“I'm going to focus on my own race,” he continued. “Rather than looking behind me tomorrow, but we will not underestimate the Ferraris. It's going to be close and should be an interesting fight. Hopefully Lewis can fight back and we can score strong points for the team. The weather could be important tomorrow but starting first, I won't complain if the rain stays away. The car feels great, especially on high fuel, and I'm ready to win. That's the only target. It's been too long since Russia.''
A 16 year veteran of writing formula one racing weekend race reports, features and team launches, Mark has worked for such companies as all-sports, e-sports, The Munich Eye newspaper in Germany, racingnation.com and Autoweek. A former member for this site four years ago, Mark now is a contributor for R.I.S.