I wrote earlier in the week that Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix (9 a.m. ET/ESPN2) should be a perfect moment for someone like Valtteri Bottas to win at. The top two drivers in Formula One have combined to lead just 30 total laps on the Red Bull Ring circuit while Bottas has led a series leading 72 circuits.
In both practice sessions on Friday, Bottas was second quickest to his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton. On Saturday morning, he was third. But, in qualifying to set the field for Sunday’s race, Bottas topped the 20 car field as he earned his first pole of the 2018 season.
The Finnish driver turned a lap of 1:03.130-seconds in knockout qualifying to earn his fifth career pole and second in-a-row in Austria.
Mercedes locked out the front row for the third time of the season and second week in-a-row as Hamilton will roll off second in his No. 44 Mercedes. Hamilton, the 2016 Austrian Grand Prix winner, turned a lap of 1:03.149-seconds in Q3. He was fastest in the opening two rounds on Saturday but failed to win the pole.
The two Ferrari’s originally qualified third and fourth respectively with Sebastien Vettel (1:03.464-seconds) starting third and Kimi Raikkonen (1:03.660-seconds) starting fourth. But, Vettel was later penalized three grid spots for impeding Carlos Sainz Jr’s run. So, he’ll now roll off sixth. Max Verstappen rounded out the top five with a lap of 1:03.840-seconds which instead of starting fifth, moves him up to fourth.
But, Verstappen’s time comes with some more Red Bull drama. He wouldn’t pull around his Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo and allow him to get a draft around the track and improve his time. As a result, Ricciardo will start seventh which allowed Romain Grosjean to be ahead in sixth.
Ricciardo, blamed Verstappen while the young Dutch driver said that they have orders before the weekend on who will qualify ahead of the other. Last weekend, he was the lead driver and this week is was Ricciardo’s turn.
Austrian Grand Prix Starting Lineup
Row 1: Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton
Row 2: Kimi Raikkonen, Max Verstappen
Row 3: Romain Grosjean, Sebastian Vettel
Row 4: Daniel Ricciardo, Kevin Magnussen
Row 5: Carlos Sainz, Nico Hulkenberg
Row 6: Esteban Ocon, Pierre Gasly R
Row 7: Charles Leclerc R, Fernando Alonso
Row 8: Lance Stroll, Stoffel Vandoorne
Row 9: Sergio Perez, Sergey Sirotkin R
Row 10: Brendan Hartley R, Marcus Ericsson