Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas beat Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel to take pole position for the Austrian Grand Prix on Saturday.It was the second pole of the Finnish driver's career, and both have been since joining Mercedes this season. This pole was on the Spielberg track where Bottas secured his first podium finish three years ago, coming third when driving for Williams.
"The laps were getting better and better. It should be a good fight tomorrow," said Bottas, who is third in the title race but trails championship leader Vettel by 42 points. "I'm sure Lewis (Hamilton) still has a lot of time to come back and get points for the team." Hamilton, second in the championship behind Vettel, qualified in third place but will start from eighth because of a grid penalty. That means Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen moves up from fourth to third.
Nearing the end of the third and final practice session in the morning, Hamilton went off the track with some smoke pouring out the side of his car. The team said it was a brake disk failure and Hamilton's mechanics worked frantically to get his car ready for qualifying.It was another blow for Hamilton, who took the grid penalty for an unauthorized gearbox change.He trails Vettel by 14 points after eight races, with both winning three times.
Asked if he could win Sunday's race, a downbeat Hamilton said "it's not really on my mind at the moment," adding that the race is more likely to be a case of "damage limitation."Three years ago, Hamilton started from ninth and finished second behind Nico Rosberg, his former Mercedes teammate. But he is not confident of a repeat performance.
"I'm pretty sure back then there was a bigger difference in speed between (Mercedes) and other cars," Hamilton said. "It's not really on my mind at the moment."But Vettel did not rule out Hamilton's chances of challenging on Sunday."We'll see, it's a long race," the German said. "We have to look after our own race."He felt he should have pushed his car a bit harder.
"Not quick enough but I was happy, the car was really good," said Vettel after missing out on a 48th career pole. "It's a great track, really enjoyable with a lot of high-speed corners." Pushing hard to get a quicker final lap, Dutch driver Max Verstappen span his Red Bull into the gravel. He finished sixth but will start fifth on the Red Bull Ring.