Button misses Canadian GP qualifying due to engine issue

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Jenson Button will start tomorrow’s Canadian Grand Prix from the back of the grid after failing to take part in Saturday’s qualifying session due to an engine problem.

McLaren has endured a difficult start to the season with the new Honda power units, encountering a number of technical problems that have limited the team to just one points finish.

Button’s teammate, Fernando Alonso, suffered a problem with his engine in FP3 that looked set to sideline him from the session before the team managed to repair the issue and send him out.

Ahead of qualifying, McLaren confirmed that Button had suffered a failure on his ERS system towards the end of the practice session and that he would not be able to take part in qualifying.

The MP4-30 slowed in the first sector, forcing the 2009 world champion to park his car at the side of the circuit towards the end of the session.

As a result, Button will start the race from 20th position at the back of the grid on Sunday. Toro Rosso driver Max Verstappen is due to drop to P19 thanks to his 15-place penalty, but will start behind Button given that the Briton did not technically qualify for the race.

In the sister car, Alonso finished 13th in the session after failing to make it through Q2, leaving McLaren with an uphill struggle if it is to score points in the race on Sunday.

Valtteri Bottas takes pole position for season-opening Austrian GP

Leonhard Foeger/Pool via Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas upstaged Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to take pole position Saturday for the Formula One Austrian GP.

The Finnish driver edged out the world champion by 0.012 seconds to claim the top spot for the season opener at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. He clenched his fist as he climbed out of his car and shared a hug with Hamilton.

“It’s something special when you push the car to the limit,” said Bottas, who is chasing an eighth career win. “Feels so good. It’s very impressive (from the team).”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was third, and Lando Norris gave McLaren a boost by finishing fourth. Verstappen has won the past two years here, including 2019 when he started third behind Hamilton and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

“It’s going to be interesting quite a bit warmer tomorrow and hopefully this will play to our advantage,” Verstappen said. “Today, Mercedes was on a different level, unfortunately. Last year we were also a little bit off in qualifying so I expect we will be a bit better in the race.”

Bottas had the leading time when drivers embarked on their final laps and beat his own mark before sliding off the track into the gravel.

Hamilton was chasing a record-extending 89th career pole. He was ahead but then dropped off slightly as Bottas secured a 12th career pole.

“Great job by Valtteri. It’s a great start to the season,” Hamilton said. “We show year on year that we continue to be the best team. We’re open-minded … constantly learning from each other and pushing the boundaries.”

Ferrari struggled for speed, with Leclerc nearly one second behind in seventh and Sebastian Vettel failing to make it into the third and final part of qualifying, known as Q3. He starts the race from 11th on the grid.

Vettel is leaving Ferrari at the end of the season with his future in F1 uncertain.

Earlier, Hamilton posted the fastest time in morning practice. The 35-year-old British driver was also quickest in both sessions on Friday.

Midway through third practice, F1 newcomer Nicholas Latifi misjudged the exit of a turn and spun his Williams car into a protective tire wall.