Spielberg Bei Knittelfeld, Austria: Valtteri Bottas upstaged his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton with a sizzling display to claim pole position ahead of the Briton for Sunday’s delayed season-opening Austrian Grand Prix.
The Finnish driver outpaced the six-time champion with a best lap in qualifying in one minute and 2.939 seconds and then survived an ‘off’ into the gravel and a spin on his final lap to emerge 0.012 seconds clear of Hamilton.
It was Bottas’ third pole at the Austrian Grand Prix and the 12th of his career, a feat that followed Hamilton’s cleansweep of the three practice sessions on Friday and Saturday morning.
“It feels really good - I’ve missed this feeling,” said Bottas.
“The qualifying shakes! It’s something special when you push the car to the limit and I’ve been waiting for a long time - we seem to be in our own league.”
Hamilton added: “A great job by Valtteri and it’s a great start to the season and I’m happy to be here.
“I think we show year on year that we are the best team - because we are open-minded, keep with the times and nobody is too stubborn to admit they are wrong.”
Max Verstappen was third for Red Bull, half a second adrift of the two newly-painted ‘black arrows’ cars whose dominating performance delivered a 65th front row lock out for the team, equalling Ferrari’s record.
“I’m happy to be P3,” said Verstappen. “But we have a different tyre so it’s going to be interesting.”
Lando Norris was an impressive fourth for McLaren ahead of Alex Albon in the second Red Bull and Sergio Perez, who was sixth in Racing Point’s ‘pink Mercedes’.
Charles Leclerc was a disappointed seventh for Ferrari ahead of his future team-mate Carlos Sainz in the second McLaren, Lance Stroll in the second Racing Point and Daniel Ricciardo of Renault.
The Austrian race is the opening event of the 2020 season after the traditional season-opener in Australia was cancelled in March before the global lockdown over the COVID-19 crisis.
Stand up against racism
Formula One drivers have united in the fight against racism but will each take their own stance ahead of Sunday’s race, the body representing them said in a statement.
The Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA) said the drivers had held several virtual meetings to agree how best to show collective support at the Red Bull Ring.
“All 20 drivers stand united with their teams against racism and prejudice, at the same time embracing the principles of diversity, equality and inclusion and supporting Formula One’s commitment to these,” it added.
“Together the drivers will all show their public support for this cause on Sunday ahead of the race, recognising and respecting that each individual has the freedom to show their support for ending racism in their own way and will be free to choose how to do this.” Frenchman Romain Grosjean, who races for the U.S-owned Haas team, told reporters on Friday he planned to take a knee before the start.
Together the drivers will all show their public support for this cause on Sunday ahead of the race, recognising and respecting that each individual has the freedom to show their support for ending racism in their own way and will be free to choose how to do this
“I wasn’t a big fan of taking the knee initially, but then I read more about it and I think now it’s a sportsman’s move to show that you are against racism and it’s not linked to any political movement,” he said.
“So personally I think I will take the knee.” Six-times world champion Lewis Hamilton has “Black Lives Matter” on his helmet, as does Ferrari’s four-times champion Sebastian Vettel. The Briton has not said whether he will take a knee.
Hamilton, the sport’s only Black driver, has campaigned vocally for equal opportunities and greater diversity in Formula One and is driving a black Mercedes with “End Racism” written on the car’s protective halo.
“Our voices are powerful and if we bring them together collectively we can have a huge impact,” Hamilton told reporters on Thursday.