Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Red Bull Ring, 2018

Bottas wins tight all-Mercedes fight for pole in Austria

2018 Austrian Grand Prix qualifying

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Valtteri Bottas made best use of Mercedes’ upgraded W09 to take his first pole position of 2018 by a tiny margin over team mate Lewis Hamilton.

Sebastian Vettel had to settle for third place for Ferrari. But there was acrimony at Red Bull as their drivers argued with their race engineers about which of them had priority on the track.

Q1

Mercedes and Ferrari selected different tyres for the first phase of qualifying. Hamilton and Bottas opted for the ultra-soft rubber and headed the times, though Hamilton did a total of eight laps on his first set.

The Ferrari pair preferred the super-softs and comfortably made it through on the harder rubber. Raikkonen was the quicker of the two in third, with Romain Grosjean and Max Verstappen separating him from Vettel.

On a short track, traffic was a headache for many drivers at the end of the session. Sergio Perez seemed to suffer worst of all, passing a string of drivers as he finished his final lap, which for the first time this year wasn’t good enough for a place in Q2.

Fernando Alonso told McLaren “traffic is the only thing you need to tell me” as he guided his MCL33 into the second part of qualifying. Team mate Stoffel Vandoorne, however, was eliminated.

Despite knocking a part off his Sauber on a kerb and skidding off the track at turn four, Charles Leclerc bagged himself a place in Q2. He beat his team mate by half a second, as Marcus Ericsson dropped out in Q1 once again.

Brendon Hartley and Sergey Sirotkin made it five different cars out in the first round of qualifying. A last-gasp run by Lance Stroll secured him the final place in Q2 by seven thousandths of a second over Vandoorne.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren-Renault1’05.271
17Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’05.279
18Sergey SirotkinWilliams-Mercedes1’05.322
19Brendon HartleyToro Rosso-Honda1’05.366
20Marcus EricssonSauber-Ferrari1’05.479

Q2

Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull switched tyre compounds in Q2: The red cars now appeared on the ultra-soft rubber, but still weren’t able to beat the Mercedes, now on super-softs.

Red Bull also opted for the super-softs, but only Verstappen was able to get a quick enough time out of them to put his car in its usual, fifth-place position. Ricciardo, complaining of a lack of front grip, ended up ninth after the first runs.

Ricciardo resisted the temptation to switch to a set of ultra-softs and stuck with the super-softs for his final run. His last effort moved him up to eighth, and kept him safe by four-tenths of a second. He was behind both the Haas drivers, who continued to show strong pace, and joined in the top 10 by the two Renault drivers.

Esteban Ocon missed the cut for the final 10 by two-tenths of a second in his Force India. He was fractionally quicker than Pierre Gasly, while Charles Leclerc took 13th, which will become 18th after his penalty.

Alonso finished his final lap by clipping the exit kerb hard but his spectacular end to the lap was only good enough for 14th place.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11Esteban OconForce India-Mercedes1’04.845
12Pierre GaslyToro Rosso-Honda1’04.874
13Charles LeclercSauber-Ferrari1’04.979
14Fernando AlonsoMcLaren-Renault1’05.058
15Lance StrollWilliams-Mercedes1’05.286

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Q3

The final phase of qualifying began with Bottas setting a stunning lap in his Mercedes. While Hamilton stumbled at turn three, Bottas went over half a second faster to lead the times. Hamilton then lost his grip on the front row as Raikkonen, running in a gap between the traffic, provisionally claimed a place on the front row.

Vettel could only manage seventh with his first effort as he was beaten by both Red Bulls and – astonishingly – Grosjean. The Haas driver took fourth ahead of the two RB14s.

All was not well at Red Bull, however. Both drivers were heard arguing with their race engineers over their radios during the session as Ricciardo objected to having to run in front of Verstappen each time he left the pits.

The argument continued after the chequered flag had fallen. Verstappen managed to move up ahead of Grosjean but Ricciardo ended the session behind the Haas driver.

Bottas eked out more time with his final run, lowering the track record to 1’03.130. Hamilton’s last effort was a huge improvement which came within two-hundredths of a second of taking pole away from his team mate, but he had to settle for second spot.

Vettel mimicked his championship rival’s late surge by jumping up to third place, making it an all-Ferrari second row. But the final gap of three-tenths of a second between his best effort and the two Mercedes indicated the W09’s aerodynamic updates had paid off around the short Austrian track.

Top ten in Q3

1Valtteri BottasMercedes1’03.130
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’03.149
3Sebastian VettelFerrari1’03.464
4Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’03.660
5Max VerstappenRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’03.840
6Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’03.892
7Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’03.996
8Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1’04.051
9Carlos Sainz JnrRenault1’04.725
10Nico HulkenbergRenault1’05.019

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2018 Austrian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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21 comments on “Bottas wins tight all-Mercedes fight for pole in Austria”

  1. 1-2 MERCEDES LOVE.

    1. Don’t you mean … 2-1 Mercedes, Gotta Love-it.

  2. The struggler of the session: Ricciardo. He couldn’t even beat one of the Haas-drivers despite the car performance advantage he has over that team’s drivers, LOL.

    1. @jerejj Well Verstappen is only 0.05s ahead of that same HAAS and he had that all important tow :)

      It’s a power track and that Ferrari powertrain has more power than the Renault. HAAS seems to have gotten the setup right for quali too where Ferrari was running too much downforce causing them to lose out on the first and last sector in return for only a small gain in sector 2. But then they might have the better setup for the race.

  3. Bottas showing Hamilton is not worth the new contract cost, he’s just as fast and consistent for a fraction of the price. There’s several drivers on the grid that would be just as good if not better in the Mercedes.

    1. Ioool too much salt.

      1. Cold, hard facts..

        1. You are right that Bottas is better than people seem to think (and his points tally suggests) yes. He’d run circles around Vettel, just like Ricciardo did in 2014.

          1. Or maybe Hamilton has shot his load and in decline? Either way Bottas is giving him all he can handle and more.

        2. @Damon You are absolutely right mate, being outqualified by 0.019s must be extremely embarrassing for HAM, I just don’t see him getting his contract renewed this year.

          1. 0.019 or 9 tenths, it doesn’t matter. The facts are Bottas is just as fast as one of the supposed best qualifiers of all time.

        3. Lool too much sour grapes…

          1. Salty sour grapes. Those must be the worst

          2. Sour grapes are somehow now the same as reality….. πŸ˜‚

          3. Damon only said Lewis wasnt worth the extra cost. How is that sour grapes? He certainly touched a few nerves here.

            So Lewis wants 40million a year. Bottas is on 7 and they could have Riccairdo for 10. Lewis had had a poor but lucky start to this year. He’s worth no more than 15million.

    2. Well I am sure if, due to being out-qualified by 2 hundreds of a second, Mercedes thinks Hamilton is not worth it, they will give him a big pay cut or fire him outright. Let’s see what happens.

  4. If you factor out the pilots, this McLaren is dead last by a country mile. It’s great that Alonso had a nice word for the team, but the real performance of the Mc is plain to see.

    1. You’re right. All teams behind actually have 1 car in front, proving their performance. The only team with both cars behind McLaren is Williams, but their drivers are like the worst, by far the worst pair.

  5. Great job from Bottas, overdue and I hope he can convert tomorrow. Hamilton only needs an easy P2 to extend his championship lead and save the engine.

  6. Did Daniel set his fastest time on the SS in Q2 ?

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