VALTTERI BOTTAS has taken pole for the Austrian GP after a qualifying tussle with teammate Lewis Hamilton.
The Brit star - aiming for a record-equalling seventh title this season - topped all three practice sessions but was pipped by the flying Finn.
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LANDO HOPE AND GLORY
Brit Lando Norris was delighted with his effort in qualifying.
He said: “We never thought we'd be in with a chance of beating Racing Point.
“But as we went to lower fuel, the car started to come alive and it felt much better.
“This track last year was very good for us, we had good confidence in the car and it suits it.”
VETTEL NO METTLE
Seb Vettel failed to make the top-ten cut in Austria
The German, who will leave Ferrari at the end of the season, said: “It's a surprise we thought we had a little bit more in hand.
“It looks like the others were running more fuel or were more conservative in practice. I wasn't quite happy with the car, it had more oversteer on entry than I would like.
“It's a long race so in race trim we are always better. I think we will be there to make up some ground and score some good points.”
Valtteri Bottas will be on pole in Austria.
He said: “I've missed this feeling after the qualifying session — the shakes, it's really something special when you push the car to the limit and I've obviously been preparing for this for a long time.
“It feels so good. Can't say more than that and our team, it's an amazing job to be in our own league.”
MORE FROM LEWIS ON F1 RACISM MEETING
He added: “In the meeting I just acknowledged a lot of the drivers, that there was an interpretation of a message that I posted asking for people to speak out and their silence.
“I was just saying thank you for those who have said something on their social media platforms.
“They've got a great voice, a great platform, and then encouraging the others that haven't to say something.
“I just described the scenario that silence is generally complicit. There still is some silence in some cases, but I think it's also part of a dialogue of people trying to understand.
“I think there are still people that don't fully understand what's happening and what are the reasons for these protests.
“I continue to try and be that guide, try to influence as many people as I can with it.”
MORE ON HAMILTON’S HORROR SHOW
The flashpoint came as he chased down Bottas' time only for the Finn to make a mistake and drift off track and into the gravel.
That prompted the stewards to wave the double flags, signalling that all drivers MUST slow down.
However, there was a concern that Hamilton did not slow, so they started looking over his car's telemetry.
While there is no suspicion of any foul play on Bottas' half, the moment will wrangle with the Brit.
However, last night he was finally given the all-clear that no further action would be taken.
Meanwhile, Hamilton and his Mercedes team are bracing themselves for a further protest into their dual-axis steering system.
Rivals Red Bull saw their protest quashed by the FIA early Saturday morning and while they held off from appealing, they reserved the right to do so in future.
It means they could appeal the decision after tonight's race.
BEN HUNT REPORTS FROM SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA
Lewis Hamilton was hit by a triple whammy on the eve of the new Formula One season.
The Brit, who was looking comfortable here in Austria after dominating all the practice session, was beaten to pole by his teammate, Valtteri Bottas.
And he was made to sweat by the race stewards as they hauled him on TWO counts of breaking the rules.
And in a third blow, his Mercedes team could be hit by a further protest from rivals Red Bull, who are not happy about their DAS-steering aid.
Hamilton was quick to praise Bottas's achievement but was dealt the blow that race bosses were digging into his data.
They felt that on one occasion he flouted the rules to leave the track at turn 10 to get an advantage.
And in a more-serious breach of the rules, he was judged to have failed to slow down on his final flying lap.
Lewis Hamilton has delivered a cryptic attack on his F1 rivals over their silence on helping end racism.
He said: “Honestly I don't have any plans at the moment.
“I've not thought that far forward. I'm sure over the evening we will.
“We spoke a bit in the drivers' briefing. Yep… Interesting….But it was good that we're kind of all at least in discussion.
“I don't know what we'll see tomorrow. I think potentially people are paying their respects in their own ways.”
Lewis Hamilton could be in trouble here.
He's been called in to the stewards for two breaches of the rules. Leaving the track to gain an advantage, then the big-one, failing to slow for the waved yellow flags.
That second one – when Valtteri Bottas went off track – means Hamilton ignored the safety instructions to slow down, as he pressed to beat his teammate to pole.
If he is found guilty, both lap times could be deleted. He could be looking at 10th on the grid for the race.
VET THE HELL!
Sebastian Vettel was not happy after failing to make Q3 for the first time since the German GP last season.
Valteri Bottas bagged the 12th pole of his career and he did it in unconventional fashion.
It's a positive message from Lewis Hamilton, but he must be gutted at missing out on pole after dominating all three practice sessions.
“This is a great start to the season. I think we show year on year that we are the best team.
“We’re a united team and we push together.”
It was a dramatic afternoon in Austria and bodes well for tomorrow's big race.
You could barely split the Mercedes pair – but what a drive from Bottas and a big hand to Lando Norris in fourth…
A delighted Finn is facing the media and the mask he's wearing can't disguise a huge smile.
“I missed this feeling after qualifying… the shakes… after pushing the car to the limit!
“A good result today, but it's tomorrow that matters.”
BOTTAS TAKES POLE
Hamilton has another crack as Bottas rides through the buttercups but the Brit is not able to better Bottas' time.
He takes pole. Hamilton will start second.
Max Verstappen will start third and a career best start for Lando Norris, who will being the race in fourth place.
BOTTAS BOUNCES OFF
Oh no! He's overdone it and bounces off track. The Finn has launched himself over the gravel trap.
That's a shocker.
BOTTAS DRAWS FIRST BLOOD
He's barely got a mention but the Finn has just smashed his teammate. He has taken provisional pole from Hamilton.
Verstappen a whopping 0.7 seconds behind Bottas.
Leclerc? Well, he is miles off the pace.
Let's forget about poking fun at Ferrari for a second. The top 10 shoot-out is on the way.
We are set for a record-breaking quick lap around this track.
Let's see just how fast these cars can go. It's a short track. Times will tumble.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH FERRARI?
TV replays showing that Vettel was all over the place.
I spoke to some of the photographers here at the track – they are allowed next to the track while we are kept in the media centre.
They all reported just how much that car was moving around while the Mercedes was like it was on rails.
That's a big concern for Ferrari, who know they have aerodynamic problems this early in the season.
VETTEL IS OUT
No matter how bad Ferrari thought it was going to be here in Austria…it just got worse.
Vettel is out in Q2 and will start a lowly 11th on the grid. They have plenty of work to do to get that car up to speed.}
The four-time world champion is out of the top 10 along with Grosjean, Ocon, Kvyat and Gasly.
💭 Brain: Concentrate on quali 👀
💭 Also brain: wallpaperwednesday next week is gonna be 🤩🤩🤩 pic.twitter.com/GTm6aoMueN
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) July 4, 2020
SLOW START TO Q2
We are four minutes in to Q2 and only now have a car on track. Lewis Hamilton is out and boy, does that car look good on brand new, shiny tyres.
Hamilton just sets a quick lap and tops the timesheets.
ELIMINATED FROM Q1
Tough luck for Brit George Russell, who is given the flick from Q1. He qualifies in 17th place.
Kimi Raikkonen also eliminated at the first hurdle along with his Alfa Romeo teammate Antonio Giovinazzi.
Kevin Magnussen and Nicholas Latifi also booted out of Q1.
At the top? Max Verstappen… That is a turn up for the books.
FIVE MINUTES TO GO
To the end of Q1 and in the drop zone are: Latifi, Grosjean, Russell, Magnussen and Raikkonen
THINGS TO WATCH
Keep and eye on the Racing Points, they could be quick. I also expect more from McLaren than what they have shown in practice.
Much further back, we need to see what Williams have got. The troubled team, up for sale and plenty of concerns, will be hoping to be within touching distance with Haas and Alfa Romeo.
QUALIFYING IS GO
Will anyone be able to challenge Hamilton for pole? We will find out in little over an hour, let's see who makes it in to Q2.