Monday, September 28, 2020

Bottas on pole for F1’s 70th anniversary race


SILVERSTONE: Valtteri Bottas pipped championship-leading Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton to pole position for Formula One’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone yesterday with Nico Hulkenberg qualifying a stunning third for Racing Point.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen joined the experienced German on the second row.

Bottas’ 13th career pole, and first since the Austrian season-opener last month, ended six-times world champion Hamilton’s bid for a fourth in a row and second at home on successive weekends.

It also ensured a reversal of last Sunday’s British Grand Prix grid, held behind closed doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which Hamilton took his 91st pole and won despite a last lap puncture.

Pirelli have brought softer tyre compounds for today’s race, meaning teams should have to do two stops rather than risking excessive wear as they did last weekend.

The front row lockout was a record-extending 67th for Mercedes, who have taken every pole so far this season and won four out of four.

Mercedes were always expected to dominate but Hulkenberg, on a controversial weekend for his team who have been fined and docked 15 points for the copied brake ducts on their ‘Pink Mercedes’, excelled.

The German is standing in for absent Mexican Sergio Perez, who failed another Covid-19 test this week, for a second successive race. He failed to start at Silverstone last Sunday due to an engine problem.

Famous for never standing on the podium in 177 starts, Hulkenberg now has another chance just when he might have thought his hopes were over after being dropped by Renault at the end of last season.

Australian Daniel Ricciardo qualified fifth for Renault, with Canadian Lance Stroll sixth for Racing Point. Charles Leclerc was the highest-placed Ferrari driver in eighth, with his four-times world champion team mate Sebastian Vettel failing to make the top 10 session and qualifying only 12th.