Bottas beats Hamilton to pole for Eifel Grand Prix

Valtteri Bottas kept up the momentum gained from winning the Russian Grand Prix by grabbing pole position from Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton with Max Verstappen his customary third on the grid.

Bottas’ time of 1m25.269s was a surprising .256s ahead of title rival Hamilton, Verstappen .293s off the pole sitter.

“It’s really such a nice feeling when you get it done on the last lap, with the last chance,” said Bottas after recording his third pole position of the season. “The last lap of qualifying 3 was spot on, just what I needed, so nice to get it together.

“It was pretty, quite honestly with short practice and these conditions getting the tyres in the sweet spot on the out lap was one of the bigger things today. We were leaving the garage more or less at the same time but we were first and I feel there’s different things you can try and do on the out lap, whether it’s braking but ultimately I got the tyres there and the lap was really nice, enjoyed it.”

For Hamilton, it was a strangely subdued response to what was could still be a great place to start as he goes in search of a record-equalling 91st grand prix victory. The front-row lockout was also Mercedes’ 77th in their distinguished F1 history.

“I’m sure when I look at the data there will be plenty of time, obviously he’s two tenths ahead, so he did a good job so congrats to him,” said Hamilton. “It’s an amazing circuit, one of the historic circuits we have so it’s definitely great to be back here.

“It’s how the tyres behave, whether it’s a one-stop or two-stop race. Going behind a safety car in these conditions will be tough but there’s a lot to play for.”

After Friday’s entire free practice session was cancelled due to thick fog hampering the operating capabilities of the medical helicopter, drivers only had one practice session to acclimatise themselves to the Nurburgring, which had not held a grand prix since 2012.

And it was more of a task for Racing Point reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg, who had to fill in at short notice after Lance Stroll was taken ill on Friday morning, so it was no surprise that the German failed to make Q2 despite his very best efforts in his home race.

It was a welcome return to the second row of the grid for Charles Leclerc, who had been bang on the pace since Saturday’s practice, the Monegasque faster than Alexander Albon, Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris as Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz rounded out the top ten.

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.