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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

Bottas takes Austrian GP pole position

Grid penalty means the Briton loses five places after he qualifies third quickest.

Valtteri Bottas starts from pole position in Austria. Darko Bandic / AP Photo
Valtteri Bottas starts from pole position in Austria. Darko Bandic / AP Photo

Valtteri Bottas took pole position for the Austrian Grand Prix as a grid penalty means his Mercedes-GP teammate Lewis Hamilton will start Sunday's race from eighth.

Bottas claimed the second pole of his career with a time of 1 minute, 04.251 seconds around the Red Bull Ring track, to out-pace Ferrari's championship leader Sebastian Vettel.

Hamilton was third, but he will drop five places due to a gearbox change being needed on his car, and he will fall behind the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, the two Red Bull Racing cars of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, as well as the Haas of Romain Grosjean and Sergio Perez's Force India on the grid.

“I really enjoy driving here. The car was getting better and better as the grip was coming,” said Bottas, who now has a chance to take a second career win following his maiden win in Russia in April. “A decent lap at the end. It wasn’t perfect but it was enough.”

Hopes of an exciting showdown between the Mercedes and Ferrari rivals in the final seconds were wrecked when Romain Grosjean’s Haas broke down on track and brought out warning flags.

The pole was the second of Bottas’s Formula One career after Bahrain in April.

Vettel won that race but Mercedes-GP have triumphed in Austria in every year since the Red Bull Ring returned to the calendar in 2014.

“Congratulations to Valtteri, he did a fantastic job and Sebastian has been very quick. It just wasn’t meant to be today,” said Hamilton, whose gearbox was swapped out after the team discovered a problem from the previous race in Azerbaijan.

“I’ll do the best job I can. I want to get up there and get a one-two with Valtteri.”

Bottas, who is 28 points behind Hamilton in the standings, said he had no plans for trying to hold up Vettel to give his teammate a chance to catch up.

“We need to focus on trying to have a good start to the race and we need to win the race,” he said. “Lewis can fight back from where he is starting.

“If you start playing games it gets tricky. If the car behind gets DRS and the slipstream, then with just one mistake and they can get the win.”

Hamilton has given himself some tactical options for the 71-lap race though. He will start on the medium super-soft Pirelli compound, unlike his rivals, who are on the soft ultra-soft, meaning he will be able to run a longer opening stint and run in clean air.

It was a dismal day for Williams as they struggled for pace with Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll down in 17th and 18th places on the grid, faster than only the Saubers.