Nico Rosberg was quick to admit that he enjoyed a less than perfect qualifying session for the Australian Grand Prix on Saturday, falling well short of teammate Lewis Hamilton’s pole position time.
Rosberg was forced to settle for second place on the grid after finishing six-tenths of a second shy of Hamilton at the top of the timesheets, giving the early edge to the defending world champion.
After the session, Rosberg admitted that he had failed to get a perfect lap together in qualifying, but did not want to take anything away from Hamilton’s pole position time.
“The story was that, first of all, Lewis was on impressive form today and an awesome job, nailed it all the time,” Rosberg said. “For me, the speed was there, but I just didn’t get it together today.
“It wasn’t a great day today, but of course I’m really, really thankful to the team for the car that they have given me. That really is a pleasure to drive, and a pleasure to be in this situation with the team. That’s really great to see where we are again now, leading the pack.
“So P2, I have to live with that today, but there’s still a long day tomorrow. We’ll still have all the chances.”
You can watch the battle between Hamilton and Rosberg unfold at the Australian Grand Prix live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 12:30a ET tomorrow.
SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas won a chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix while six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth after getting a late time penalty Sunday.
The Formula One race was interrupted three times by a safety car, and nine of 20 drivers abandoned, including both Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon – who tried to overtake Hamilton on the outside with 10 laps left, touched wheels and flew off track.
Hamilton was given a 5-second time penalty for causing the collision, having earlier been hit with a three-place grid penalty after an incident in Saturday’s qualifying was reviewed by stewards.
Bottas led all 71 laps in the eighth victory of his career. It was the second consecutive victory in the season opener for the Finn, though he won four months earlier in 2019 after this season’s start was delayed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Bottas started from pole position and Hamilton from fifth, but it looked like a straight fight between the two Mercedes drivers as has been the case so often in recent years.
But late drama in Spielberg ensured otherwise and Hamilton’s time penalty meant Charles Leclerc took second place for Ferrari, and Lando Norris sent McLaren’s garage into raptures – and threw all social distancing rules out of the window amid the euphoria – with third place.
It was the 20-year-old British driver’s first career podium, and his superb final lap was the fastest of a dramatic season opener.
Norris became the youngest British driver to secure a podium finish and the third-youngest ever in Formula One.