F1: Bottas beats Hamilton to first Pole Position of 2020
Valterri Bottas qualifies on Pole Position for the opening race of 2020 ahead of Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull's Max Verstappen as Ferrari's woes continue as Sebastian Vettel gets knocked-out in Q2.
4th July 2020
For the third time in four years, Valterri Bottas will start tomorrow's race from Pole Position despite going off on his final flying lap in Q3. Lewis Hamilton, who was quickest in all of the three practice sessions, came close to his team-mate's time but will start on the front-row alongside him in second.
Max Verstappen claimed 3rd for Red Bull as Lando Norris took a brilliant 4th for McLaren. The Racing Point's of Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll finished the session 6th and 9th after their early pace in practice.
How it Qualifying unfolded
Eliminated in the first part of Qualifying were the two Alfa Romeo's, the two Williams's and the Haas of Kevin Magnussen. It was Alpha Romeo's Giovinazzi who posted the first time of the session of a 1:05:478 and was less than a tenth quicker than team-mate Raikkonen after their first attempts. The track kept improving which meant all the drivers, with the exception of Alexander Albon, came back onto track to set another lap time.
Magnussen and Russell were separated by just three milliseconds in 16th and 17th while running wide and taking a trip across the gravel at Turn 4 cost Giovinazzi a shot of making it in Q2. Raikkonen bemoaned that the session was messy while Latifi was able to set a few lap times despite his FP3 crash but qualified last. At the front, Verstappen ended the session quickest on a 1:04:024 ahead of Bottas and Hamilton.
Q2 was going to be tight given how close the mid-field had been throughout the three practice sessions. Bottas set the first time 1:03:530 of Q2 with Hamilton beating that time by two tenths. Verstappen gambled on the Medium tyre but after his first lap, he was eighth and seven tenths slower than Hamilton on the Softs. The drivers ventured back out for another lap to decide who would make it through to Q3.
A late effort by Albon pushed Sebastian Vettel out of the top ten. Along with Vettel, both Alpha Tauri's, the Renault of Esteban Ocon and the Haas of Romain Grosjean failed to make it through to Q3. Bottas ended the session quickest on a 1:03:015 ahead of Hamilton and Albon. Interesting to note that Verstappen will start tomorrow's race on the Medium tyre with the Dutchman being the only one in the top ten to do so.
The other Ferrari of Charles Leclerc scraped through by the skin of his teeth in 10th. On his radio, he asked: "Are we safe?" His engineer said: "Yes, you are P10" with Leclerc replying: "That's crazy!"
For the first time this weekend, Bottas managed to finish ahead of Hamilton in Q2 and after the first runs in Q3, it was advantage Bottas with a tenth in hand. Stroll set his final lap early and went 6th, just over a second slower than Bottas's lap. The yellow flags appeared momentarily in Sector 2 as Bottas went rallying after going off at Turn 4. The Finn subsequently spun but would he keep pole? Hamilton came within 12 milliseconds of his team-mate but it wasn't enough to take pole. Verstappen kept 3rd as Lando Norris finished a brilliant 4th for McLaren.
Driver of the Day
There's three contenders for this I think. They are Valterri Bottas, Lando Norris and George Russell. Bottas had been behind Hamilton all weekend so far and to pull out a lap like that was great. Ever since FP2, Norris has looked the most comfortable McLaren driver and finished a career best 4th while Russell pulled out all the stops to beat both Alfa Romeo's, something that could only be imagined last season. His wait to to get out of Q1 for the first time has to wait. Driver of the day goes to Norris.
Valterri Bottas, Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Honda
Lando Norris, McLaren Renault
Alexander Albon, Red Bull Honda
Sergio Perez, Racing Point
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
Carlos Sainz Jr, McLaren Renault
Lance Stroll, Racing Point
Daniel Ricciardo, Renault
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari
Pierre Gasly, Alpha Tauri
Daniil Kvyat, Alpha Tauri
Esteban Ocon, Renault
Romain Grosjean, Haas Ferrari
Kevin Magnussen, Haas Ferrari
George Russell, Williams Mercedes
Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo
Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo
Nicholas Latifi, Williams Mercedes