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Brawn: F1 2018 triple-header ‘an emergency measure’

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The unprecedented triple-header of races on the 2018 Formula 1 calendar is an “emergency measure” that is unlikely to ever happen again, according to series technical chief Ross Brawn.

The FIA confirmed the 21-race calendar for 2018 following the World Motor Sport Council’s final meeting of the year in Paris on Wednesday, with the triple-header across June and July going unchanged from the provisional schedule.

France will host its first grand prix since 2008 on June 24, and will be followed by races in Austria and Great Britain on July 1 and July 8 respectively.

Concerns have already been raised about the logistical and physical challenge of the triple-header, particularly with the placement of Hungary and Germany later in July resulting in a run of five races in six weekends.

However, Brawn told Sky Germany that staging races on three straight weekends would not become common practice for F1 moving forward, stressing 2018’s scheduling was complicated by the FIFA World Cup’s staging.

“The World Cup presented us with a very unusual problem. The final is in the afternoon and it would have been very unfair to have run a race on that weekend,” Brawn said, referring to the July 15 weekend.

“We could only solve that by having three races in a row, but it’s not something we want to repeat in the future.

“It was an emergency measure.”

Despite Brawn’s comments, it is known that F1 owner Liberty Media is keen to expand the series’ calendar beyond the 21 races currently scheduled as part of its push to expand and grow its awareness globally.

The 2018 calendar will tie with 2016 for being the longest in F1’s history.

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.