Hamilton: ‘Not been my weekend so far’ in Singapore

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Lewis Hamilton admitted to a lack of rhythm after qualifying third for the Singapore Grand Prix on Saturday night, over seven-tenths of a second slower than Mercedes teammate and Formula 1 title rival Nico Rosberg.

Hamilton arrived in Singapore leading the drivers’ championship by two points after seeing Rosberg win the last two races in Belgium and Italy.

The Briton suffered a hydraulic issue on Friday that limited his practice running, while an error in FP3 on Saturday afternoon meant he entered qualifying without a simulation under his belt.

Hamilton finished seven-tenths of a second behind Rosberg after his first run in Q3 to sit second on the provisional grid before failing to improve on his second effort.

Daniel Ricciardo was able to find a chunk of time in the final sector that lifted him onto the front row of the grid, leaving Hamilton third for the start in Singapore after he failed to improve.

“[It] wasn’t a frustrating session. Just not been my weekend so far,” Hamilton said after qualifying.

“Not really got many good laps out there, not been able to string them together.

“Nico did a great job, he showed the true potential of the car.

“Hopefully tomorrow I’ll try to get that one step up to get that front row for the team.”

Both Hamilton and Rosberg will need to remain wary of the Red Bull drivers in Sunday’s race after Ricciardo and teammate Max Verstappen (qualified fourth) got through Q2 on the super-soft tire.

While Mercedes may have the pace advantage on ultra-softs, the Red Bulls should be able to go further into the race before pitting by virtue of their alternate strategy.

The Singapore Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 7am ET on Sunday.

Valtteri Bottas takes pole position for season-opening Austrian GP

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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.