Bottas beats Vettel to capture second F1 pole in Austria qualifying

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Valtteri Bottas edged out Formula 1 championship leader Sebastian Vettel to capture his second career pole in qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix on Saturday in Spielberg.

Bottas turned in a fastest lap of 1:04.251 in the early part of Q3 to beat Vettel by just 0.042 seconds with his first run, with the time ultimately being good enough for pole.

Yellow flags shown for Romain Grosjean’s stricken Haas meant that neither driver was able to improve, handing Bottas his second F1 pole position.

Having been hit with a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change, Mercedes opted to put Lewis Hamilton on an alternate strategy for the race start in Austria, getting the Briton through Q2 on the super-soft compound.

Hamilton finished almost two-tenths behind Bottas in third place, meaning he will start eighth on Sunday. However, with the rest of the pack starting on ultra-softs, Hamilton will be able to go longer into the race before pitting and will enjoy a pace advantage towards the end after pitting.

Red Bull failed to put up a fight to Mercedes and Ferrari at the front of the pack, finishing fifth and sixth with Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, the latter struggling to get into a rhythm as he tried a number of different lines on the track.

Grosjean took seventh for Haas ahead of the Force India duo of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, while Carlos Sainz Jr. completed the top 10 for Toro Rosso.

Nico Hulkenberg narrowly missed out on a place in Q3 for Renault, qualifying 11th as he once again led the French marque’s charge with struggling teammate Jolyon Palmer ailing to 16th place.

McLaren failed to put its upgraded Honda power unit in Stoffel Vandoorne’s car to good use as the Belgian finished 13th in Q2, just behind teammate Fernando Alonso who had been forced to revert back to the ‘Spec 2′ engine earlier in the day following a problem.

Alonso had reported a lack of power early in the session, believing to have sustained another engine issue, but was able to finish just 0.05 seconds off a place in Q3.

Kevin Magnussen’s hopes of repeating his charge into the top 10 from FP3 were dashed when he suffered a suspension failure after running over the kerb at Turn 3, damaging his Haas car.

The Dane was able to make it through to Q2, but could take no part in the session, leaving him 15th on the grid behind Daniil Kvyat.

Williams’ miserable weekend in Spielberg continued as both Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll were eliminated in Q1, finishing 17th and 18th as the new updates for the FW40 car continued to cause headaches.

Sauber drivers Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein finished at the foot of the timesheets, finishing over seven-tenths of a second off a berth in Q2.

The Austrian Grand Prix is live on CNBC and the NBC Sports app from 7:30am ET on Sunday.

Audi bids farewell to Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich upon retirement

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Audi bid farewell to its iconic head of motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, at its end-of-season ‘Race Night’ event in Germany on Friday upon his retirement.

Ullrich took over the reins as Audi’s head of motorsport in 1993 and stayed in the role for 23 years, overseeing its arrival in the prototype class of sports car racing and domination of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ullrich stepped down from the position at the end of 2016, handing the reins over to ex-Audi DTM chief Dieter Gass, and attended his final racing event with the German marque at its first works Formula E outing in Hong Kong earlier this month.

Ullrich was honored at the Race Night event on Friday and thanked for his efforts in developing Audi into a force within global motorsport.

“In 566 factory-backed commitments during this period he celebrated 209 victories, 13 of them in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, eleven in the 12-hour race at Sebring and nine in the ‘Petit Le Mans’ at Road Atlanta,” a piece on Ullrich’s tenure for Audi’s website reads.

“31 driver titles in super touring car racing, in the DTM and in the sports prototype category are credited to him. 57 campaigners were Audi factory drivers during Wolfgang Ullrich’s era and he was responsible for 18 new developments of racing cars – an impressive tally.”