Bottas beats Vettel to capture second F1 pole in Austria qualifying

0 Comments

Valtteri Bottas edged out Formula 1 championship leader Sebastian Vettel to capture his second career pole in qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix on Saturday in Spielberg.

Bottas turned in a fastest lap of 1:04.251 in the early part of Q3 to beat Vettel by just 0.042 seconds with his first run, with the time ultimately being good enough for pole.

Yellow flags shown for Romain Grosjean’s stricken Haas meant that neither driver was able to improve, handing Bottas his second F1 pole position.

Having been hit with a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change, Mercedes opted to put Lewis Hamilton on an alternate strategy for the race start in Austria, getting the Briton through Q2 on the super-soft compound.

Hamilton finished almost two-tenths behind Bottas in third place, meaning he will start eighth on Sunday. However, with the rest of the pack starting on ultra-softs, Hamilton will be able to go longer into the race before pitting and will enjoy a pace advantage towards the end after pitting.

Red Bull failed to put up a fight to Mercedes and Ferrari at the front of the pack, finishing fifth and sixth with Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, the latter struggling to get into a rhythm as he tried a number of different lines on the track.

Grosjean took seventh for Haas ahead of the Force India duo of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, while Carlos Sainz Jr. completed the top 10 for Toro Rosso.

Nico Hulkenberg narrowly missed out on a place in Q3 for Renault, qualifying 11th as he once again led the French marque’s charge with struggling teammate Jolyon Palmer ailing to 16th place.

McLaren failed to put its upgraded Honda power unit in Stoffel Vandoorne’s car to good use as the Belgian finished 13th in Q2, just behind teammate Fernando Alonso who had been forced to revert back to the ‘Spec 2′ engine earlier in the day following a problem.

Alonso had reported a lack of power early in the session, believing to have sustained another engine issue, but was able to finish just 0.05 seconds off a place in Q3.

Kevin Magnussen’s hopes of repeating his charge into the top 10 from FP3 were dashed when he suffered a suspension failure after running over the kerb at Turn 3, damaging his Haas car.

The Dane was able to make it through to Q2, but could take no part in the session, leaving him 15th on the grid behind Daniil Kvyat.

Williams’ miserable weekend in Spielberg continued as both Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll were eliminated in Q1, finishing 17th and 18th as the new updates for the FW40 car continued to cause headaches.

Sauber drivers Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein finished at the foot of the timesheets, finishing over seven-tenths of a second off a berth in Q2.

The Austrian Grand Prix is live on CNBC and the NBC Sports app from 7:30am ET on Sunday.

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
0 Comments

Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed its new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with Ford Motor Co. in an event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and team principal Christian Horner.

It’s the first Formula 1 team to launch in the United States for 2023, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin, Texas, for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen already had wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts inevitably will turn to establishing a dynasty, and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his chief rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.