• F1: Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas on pole with fastest qualifying time for Austrian GP

    Abhishek TakleSpielberg (Austria)Jul 09, 2017, 09:40 IST

    Valtteri Bottas
    Valtteri Bottas

    Valtteri Bottas set the fastest time in qualifying to take pole position for today's Austrian Grand Prix, but the spotlight was on his championship contending Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton who is set to start only eighth.

    The Briton set the third-quickest time yesterday afternoon behind the Finn, who lapped in one minute, 04.251 seconds, and title rival Sebastian Vettel.

    But the 32-year-old will drop five places on the grid due to a penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change.

    "Of course, I would have loved to have improved my lap," said Hamilton after the session. "But it just wasn't to be today."

    "I'll do the best job I can. Obviously I want to get up there and get a one-two with Valtteri."

    Hamilton is the only driver on the grid to have won at the Red Bull Ring. With Mercedes also having won every race at the track since it returned to the calendar on 2014, the triple world champion had gone into the weekend as favourite for victory.

    The penalty dents Hamilton's chances of slashing his deficit to Vettel on Sunday. But, starting on the more durable super-soft tyre compared to his rivals on the ultra-softs, he could still fight through for a strong result.

    But it does give Vettel another lucky break in the title battle.

    The German finished ahead of Hamilton at the last race in Baku despite serving a stop-and-go penalty for a controversial collision with his rival and escaped a subsequent review by the sport's governing body without further sanction.

    "We will see, it's a long race, a lot of things that can happen," said the 30-year-old. "I think it should be a good race."

    Yesterday's pole was the second of Bottas' career, after the Finn started April's Bahrain Grand Prix from the front.

    The 27-year-old, who scored his maiden win at the Russian Grand Prix earlier this year, said he wouldn't be slowing the pace down to help Hamilton catch up, with his sights firmly set on taking a second win at the track where he scored his first podium and front row start.

    "I enjoyed it today," said Bottas. "The car was getting better and better as the grip was coming up."

    Kimi Raikkonen in the other Ferrari qualified fourth but will start third as a result of Hamilton's penalty. Red Bull pair Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen will line up fourth and fifth for their team's home race. The latter ended the session in the gravel after losing control of his car in a wild spin.

    Romain Grosjean, whose Haas came to a stop in the dying seconds of qualifying forcing other drivers to abort their final flying laps, will start sixth ahead of Force India's Sergio Perez. His team-mate Esteban Ocon starts ninth with Carlos Sainz rounding out the top-ten.

    Hamilton trails Vettel by 14 points heading into today's race.

    The pair moved on from their controversial Baku collision and buried the hatchet on Thursday, but Hamilton refused to shake Vettel's hand for the benefit of the cameras during the post-qualifying proceedings.

    Footage showed, however, that the two rivals had shaken hands earlier after stepping out of their cars.

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