Bottas on pole in Austria

Kristopher Nichols
July 9, 2017

There had been calls for Vettel to be hit with penalties for this race after he drove his auto into Hamilton's at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in protest to what he considered a unsafe braking manoeuvre. This year, Vettel is first in the point standings.

"The laps were getting better and better".

The second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas was third, with Vettel nearly half a second down on Hamilton.

A victor three times so far this season, and in Austria a year ago, the triple world champion told reporters he was thinking only as far as the second step of the podium after a penalty for a gearbox change dropped him five places.

Bottas' fellow Finn Kimi Raikkonen was sixth in the second Ferrari ahead of Dane Kevin Magnussen of Haas, two-time world champion Fernando Alonso of McLaren, Renault's Nico Hulkenberg and Frenchman Romain Grosjean in the second Haas auto.

However, things could change as the Austrian Grand Prix is set for this weekend with the practice session starting Friday.

A grid penalty denies Lewis Hamilton Austria pole.

Bottas said that trying to slow Vettel down would risk Mercedes losing the race.

The Mercedes and Ferrari duel remains intriguing, and with Hamilton needing to move up from eighth place there should be some stunning overtaking on view - particularly after all that needle with Vettel last time out. However, the three-time world champion is less confident that he can perform similar heroics this time around.

Vettel hit the back of Hamilton's auto as they prepared for one of three restarts, damaging his front wing and the Mercedes' floor.

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But Vettel did not rule out Hamilton's chances of challenging on Sunday.

"Tomorrow I don't think we are quite there in terms of speed to fight with Mercedes and Ferrari, but as we have seen a lot can happen in the race so anything is possible". "We have to look after our own race".

"There were some cars in the last sector [during the first push lap], the last three corners, which didn't help".

"Not quick enough but I was happy, the auto was really good", said Vettel after missing out on a 48th career pole. But I think it is very good if Sebastian is supporting, helping, Formula 4 drivers, Formula 3 drivers, Formula 2 drivers.

Both of Bottas' pole positions have been since joining Mercedes this season.

Danish driver Kevin Magnussen, boosted by his seventh place in Azerbaijan, was hampered by suspension problems and was one of the five drivers who failed to make it into Q3 - as did both McLarens.

"It was a hard day", Hamilton said.

In the morning's third and final practice, Vettel posted the fastest time ahead of Hamilton and Bottas.

The Briton's grid penalty dispelled some of the tension from a weekend that started with continued rumblings from Baku and the "road rage" controversy that has dominated the headlines over the past two weeks.

Mercedes had to change the unit before it had completed its mandatory six races, with the matter referred to the stewards. "I want to win the next 12 races", he said.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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