© Getty Images

Rosberg braced for ‘big battle’ with Ferrari, Red Bull in Singapore

Leave a comment

Nico Rosberg is braced for a “big battle” between Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull in this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix after Friday’s closely-fought practice running.

After seeing Max Verstappen head up a Red Bull one-two in FP1, Rosberg responded in second practice by topping the timesheets for Mercedes.

Each of the three leading teams enjoyed spells at the head of the field and set a similar long-run pace, stoking the fire nicely for a scrap between them in Singapore.

“It’s really close between ourselves, Red Bull and Ferrari,” Rosberg acknowledged after the session.

“Much closer than at some other tracks for sure, so it looks like a big battle ahead.

“I’m looking forward to it.”

Rosberg’s Friday did not go by without one issue, though, after a mistake in FP1 saw him hit the wall and damage the front-end of his Mercedes W07 Hybrid car.

“The first session was going OK until I hit the wall at Turn 18,” Rosberg explained.

“That wasn’t ideal, but luckily the impact wasn’t too heavy, so I managed to get the car back to the pits and the guys had it ready in time for FP2.

“The second session felt better but we still have some room for improvement.

“It’s been a solid start to the weekend. Definitely better than last year.”

Rosberg enters the Singapore weekend trailing Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by just two points at the top of the drivers’ championship.

Qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix is live on CNBC and the NBC Sports app from 9am ET on Saturday.

Valtteri Bottas takes pole position for season-opening Austrian GP

Leonhard Foeger/Pool via Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.