Lewis Hamilton was full of praise following qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix, congratulating both the Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport team and team-mate Valtteri Bottas for his pole position run.
Bottas secured pole position with a fastest lap of 1:03.130 – just 0.019 seconds faster than Hamilton’s 1:03.149. The Brit’s time was enough for second on the grid, and was over three tenths of a second faster than championship rival Sebastian Vettel in third.
This is the team’s third front row lockout of the season (the previous two coming at the Spanish Grand Prix and the French Grand Prix), and marks Bottas’ fifth career pole position. Whilst the Finn has previous form at the track, taking pole last year, Hamilton said that set-up differences were potentially the reason for Bottas’ speed over him.
“This is a great result for the team, I’m really happy for us to have a 1-2. Congratulations to Valtteri, he did a better job today. He went a completely different way with the set-up and maybe in hindsight I should have gone that direction as well. I’m really grateful for all the hard work from everyone at the factory, they’ve helped us to improve the car, move forward and lock out the front row – it’s quite a privilege to be in that position. You can’t really follow here, so there usually isn’t a lot of overtaking but we will see if the three DRS zones will make a difference.”
Speaking before news of Vettel’s three place grid penalty for blocking Carlos Sainz Jr. during qualifying, Hamilton commented on the difference in tyre selection between the top teams – saying that as Scuderia Ferrari once again opted to start on the faster UltraSoft tyres, it would be difficult to keep title-contender Vettel behind at the start.
“Ferrari will start on the UltraSoft tyres whereas Red Bull and us will start on the SuperSofts so that will be interesting. There is a bit of a performance difference between those tyres, so keeping Sebastian behind at the start will be difficult, but I will give it everything I could. It’s going to be close tomorrow, but we’re in a good position for the race.”
Vettel will now start in sixth place, behind team-mate Kimi Räikkönen, Max Verstappen and Haas F1 Team driver Romain Grosjean.