Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas pulled all stops to produce a brilliant Austrian GP Qualifying performance by claiming pole despite Lewis Hamilton set to start in the eighth spot in the race after being hit with a five spot grid penalty for changing gearboxes. The Briton finished qualifying in third despite knowing that he will be penalised for his transgressions and has revealed that the race will be a case of damage limitation, with Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel starting from the front row in the second spot.
With Hamilton out of the picture, Kimi Raikkonen will now get to start behind his Ferrari team-mate Vettel in third, who will share the second row with the in-form Azerbaijan race-winner Daniel Ricciardo at what is Red Bull's home race. He will be followed by Red Bull's Max Verstappen in fifth, while he will be joined by Romain Grosjean, who will start in the sixth spot for Haas.
This has been a brilliant effort by the American outfit, equalling his best ever starting position, although he did struggle in the end and failed to make any dramatic improvements to his starting position. Hamilton will have to start the race in eighth, between the Force India pair of Sergio Pérez and Esteban Ocon who will start in seventh and ninth respectively, with Carlos Sainz of Toro Rosso completing the top 10.
When asked if Bottas will try to slow down his pace at the top to allow Hamilton to close in on his Ferrari opponents, the Briton was steadfast, stating Bottas will try his best to win the race and help secure the Constructor's Championship. Hamilton is currently 14 points behind Vettel, with the contest heating up for the 2017 season.
Where to watch live
The race starts at 1pm BST (Sunday) with Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports F1 HD providing live TV coverage. Real-time Internet updates are available on the Live Timing section of the sport's official website.
Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)– P1: "What a special feeling. 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. I'm going to focus on my own race, 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."
Sebastian Vettel(Ferrari) – P2: "Obviously it's better than where I was before, but it has been difficult with the tyres to switch them on and it's been a struggle every time. It either works a little bit better or not so good and luckily the last set was slightly more a better feeling, just on the warm-up side. Still not perfect but I think if you switch them on you can go a lot faster. Obviously we are close enough with Mercedes but I think it's a lot to do with how you switch on the tyres."
Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) - "It's been a frustrating day for me. I had a chance to be fastest today and I didn't quite put it all together on that final lap in Q3. I'm disappointed with my performance in Q3: it would have been great to do a better lap but it obviously wasn't meant to be. Valtteri did a fantastic job though to take pole. The gearbox issue hasn't played on my mind during the weekend but after qualifying you realise you're starting further back. I think it will be tough to make progress tomorrow. The pack is a lot closer than in 2014 when I fought up to P2. But perhaps the weather can come into play. I'll work as hard as I can to recover and try get as many points as possible. We still have great pace and the car has been fantastic here, so I know I've got the car to do the job. Let's see how it all plays out tomorrow."
Qualifying results from the Austrian GP
|5||DANIEL RICCIARDO||RED BULL RACING||1:04.896|
|6||MAX VERSTAPPEN||RED BULL RACING||1:04.983|
|8||SERGIO PEREZ||FORCE INDIA||1:05.605|
|9||ESTEBAN OCON||FORCE INDIA||1:05.674|
|10||CARLOS SAINZ||TORO ROSSO||1:05.726|