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Sauber confirms Frederic Vasseur as new team boss

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Ex-Renault F1 head Frederic Vasseur has been named to the same role at Sauber F1 Team, the team announced Wednesday.

The Frenchman has been named Managing Director & CEO of Sauber Motorsport AG, as well as Team Principal of the Sauber F1 Team, effective July 17, 2017. So he’ll start after this weekend’s British Grand Prix. Vasseur parted ways with Renault earlier this year, which threw that team for a loop on the heels of the new season.

The news comes amidst rumors that Sauber’s now planned switch to Honda engines next year may be off. But Vasseur is diving into the challenge and should give the team some guidance at the top in the wake of Monisha Kaltenborn’s departure.

“I’m very proud to be joining Sauber Motorsport AG, and wish to thank the company’s shareholders for their trust in me,” he said. “I’ve been impressed by the facilities in Hinwil and by the talent and ambition of the workforce, and I very much look forward to complementing the team with my experience and determination and drive all people in the right direction in everything they do: I am convinced that all together we will achieve ambitious targets. I cannot wait to start working with our drivers, engineers and all the staff. I look forward to contributing to the next important phase in the development of the team.”

Pascal Picci, Chairman, added: “Frédéric Vasseur’s long and successful career in top level international motorsport speaks for itself, and we are thrilled to welcome him to Sauber.”

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.