Getty Images

Draft calendar of 2018 F1 schedule released

Leave a comment

At Monday’s World Motor Sport Council meeting, the first draft of the 2018 Formula 1 schedule was released, with a few notable tweaks.

The return of the French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard slots in on June 24, and a week after the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans, June 16-17.

What that race being added does is create a tentative tripleheader with the French, Austrian and British Grands Prix all in successive weeks, a first for F1.

Germany is also back as it’s not on this year’s calendar, scheduled for July 22 at Hockenheim.

Elsewhere Baku moves from its current June slot into the end of April (April 29), while the Russian Grand Prix moves back to September (Sept. 30) after two years in April as the first in a back-to-back with the Japanese Grand Prix.

With Malaysia out, the calendar is at 21 races.

The tentative calendar is below (*subject to commercial rights holder confirmation):

25 March Melbourne Australia
8 April Shanghai* China
15 April Sakhir Bahrain
29 April Baku Azerbaijan
13 May Barcelona Spain
27 May Monaco Monaco
10 June Montreal Canada
24 June Le Castellet France
1 July Spielberg Austria
8 July Silverstone Great Britain
22 July Hockenheim Germany
29 July Budapest Hungary
26 August Spa-Francorchamps Belgium
2 September Monza Italy
16 September Singapore* Singapore
30 September Sochi Russia
7 October Suzuka Japan
21 October Austin USA
28 October Mexico City Mexico
11 November Sao Paulo Brazil
25 November Yas Marina Abu Dhabi

 

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.