Valtteri Bottas won another super-close contest for pole position this year which put him on course to become a two-times grand prix winner.
The Mercedes driver beat Sebastian Vettel to pole by 0.042s on Saturday. That’s the fifth time this year the top two have been separated by less than six-hundredths of a second.
Unfortunately for Vettel, he’s been on the losing side of that three times. Had he found another five-hundredths last weekend, the same at Monaco and six-hundredths in Spain, he’d be on four pole position for the season instead of one.
Nonetheless Vettel has the best average qualifying position (before penalties) of any driver so far this year, thanks to starting six of the nine races so far from second. That’s an impressive feat given that Mercedes have had the quicker car over a single lap in seven races out of nine.
As it was Vettel was left to chase home Bottas as the Mercedes driver became the 74th driver in the championship’s history to win more than one race. He also gave Mercedes their fourth consecutive win in Austria, continuing their domination of this round since it was reintroduced to the calendar in 2014.
Bottas took pole with a lap of 1’04.251. He and others might have gone quicker had it not been for a late yellow flag. But even so this was the shortest pole position time seen at an F1 race since Nigel Mansell’s Williams-Honda headed the grid at the 1985 South African Grand Prix. Mansell covered the 4.104km Kyalami track at an average speed of 236.898kph while Bottas lapped the 4.318km Red Bull Ring at an average of 241.938kph.
Bottas joined Stuart Lewis-Evans, Jo Siffert, John Watson, Gilles Villeneuve, Michele Alboreto, Jean Alesi and Heinz-Harald Frentzen as a two-times pole sitters. But while he was flying high his former team Williams were struggling. The FW40s shared the ninth row, the team’s worst starting positions since Bottas and Pastor Maldonado started 17th and 18th at the 2013 Korean Grand Prix.
It was almost a lights-to-flag victory for Bottas. However Kimi Raikkonen ran long during his first stint and took the lead for two laps before slipping back to finish fifth. This extended a depressing streak for Raikkonen: In the last 15 races every time both Ferraris have finished Vettel has been ahead.
Raikkonen was followed home by Romain Grosjean who equalled the best qualifying performance for Haas by starting sixth. Fernando Alonso and Nico Hulkenberg extended their unbeaten streaks against their team mates in qualifying, the former doing so despite not running Honda’s upgraded engine.
Daniel Ricciardo finished on the podium for the fifth race running, which is his longest streak to date. His fortunes could hardly contrast more sharply with team mate Max Verstappen, who in nine races has retired five times. Three of these were due to technical failures and the other two were first-lap incidents.
Renault posted their fifth no-score this year but for the first time Jolyon Palmer came home ahead of Nico Hulkenberg. Palmer, who is yet to score this year, took his third 11th place finish, and is starting to look like the Esteban Gutierrez of 2017.
Review the year so far in statistics here:
- 2017 F1 championship points
- 2017 F1 season records
- 2017 F1 race data
- 2017 F1 qualifying data
- 2017 F1 retirements and penalties
- 2017 F1 strategy and pit stops
Have you spotted any other interesting stats and facts from the Austrian Grand Prix? Share them in the comments.
2017 Austrian Grand Prix
- Second Driver of the Weekend win for Bottas
- Modest score for underwhelming Austrian GP
- Bottas admits he “gambled” on start in Austria
- Top ten pictures from the 2017 Austrian Grand Prix
- 2017 Austrian Grand Prix Star Performers