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Wolff: Bottas doing a good job ‘filling Nico’s shoes’

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Yes, there hasn’t been a single Grand Prix run yet in 2017 and yes, it’s only been a few weeks since Valtteri Bottas has been formally confirmed as Nico Rosberg’s replacement at Mercedes AMG Petronas.

That said, it’s important to make a good first impression and Bottas has done so within the confines of his new team, Mercedes-Benz motorsport chief Toto Wolff said.

Bottas’ first few weeks with his new team will lay the groundwork for the start of his relationship with the team, which is just one year with options beyond 2017.

Wolff said in a video released by Mercedes on Tuesday that Bottas is doing just what’s being asked of him thus far.

“I think the balance between Valtteri and Lewis (Hamilton) works,” Wolff said.

“They’re two very different personalities. For us, it was important to fill Nico’s shoes. Nico had a certain role within the team and Valtteri pretty much fits into that.

“We believe that the interaction and dynamics will work well. They respect each other. So far from what I’ve seen, Valtteri has settled in well.”

Wolff attempted to reflect on the hectic offseason at Brackley and Brixworth, which has not only seen Rosberg ride off into the sunset, but also Paddy Lowe’s departure before his eventual arrival at Williams Martini Racing.

“There was not really time to relax and recharge the batteries!” Wolff admitted.

“The phone is one thing but there were many decisions that needed to be taken, and assessments to be made. Paddy going was another one.

“To make the team stronger, you need to be careful evaluating which steps we take. This is why every day is important.”

Wolff also touched on the new car progress, his thoughts on F1’s new owners Liberty Media Corporation, and other Mercedes-related motorsport topics. You can see the full video linked here.

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.