‘Spot on’ Bottas edges Hamilton to take pole at Eifel GP | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

‘Spot on’ Bottas edges Hamilton to take pole at Eifel GP

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Valtteri Bottas produced a blistering track record on his final qualifying lap yesterday to edge Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton and claim pole position for the Eifel Grand Prix. Bottas clocked a best lap of one minute and 25.269 seconds to beat the championship leader by two-tenths of a second in very cold conditions following only one practice session after Friday’s running was cancelled due to fog. It was Bottas’s third pole this year and the 14th of his career, a feat that he hopes can help him keep alive his championship challenge. After winning in Russia two weeks ago he lies 44 points be-hind Hamilton.

The two ‘black arrows’ were pushed all the way by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who lost grip on his final run and wound up third ahead of Charles Leclerc of Ferrari and Alex Albon in the second Red Bull car. “It is such a nice feeling when you do it on the last lap –- my last lap was spot on,” said Bottas. “It’s been pretty tricky with short practice and these conditions getting the tyres in the sweet spot, that was one of the bigger things today.

The chilly autumn weather has shaped practice and qualifying. Friday’s practice sessions were wiped out by fog and rain. “I believe I can win,” said Bottas. “That’s the only goal for tomorrow and hopefully we can have a good start.” Hamilton, who needs just one victory to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 Grand Prix victo-ries, had to settle for second on the grid. “Valtteri is two-tenths ahead and he did a good job, so congratulations to him,” he said. “There is plenty of time for me to regain… Daniel Ricciardo was sixth ahead of his Renault team-mate Esteban Ocon, Lando Norris of McLaren, Sergio Perez of Racing Point and Carlos Sainz in the second McLaren. Shortly before qualifying, Racing Point announced that Nico Hulkenberg would step in for Lance Stroll who was “unwell”. Hulkenberg, who covered for Stroll’s teammate Sergio Perez at Silverstone, was called at short no-tice from a Cologne cafe.

Without any practice, he qualified at the back of the grid. The session began in bright, cold conditions with the air temperature struggling to exceed 10 de-grees, but no repeat of the fog and rain that led to the cancellation of both practice sessions on Friday. Hulkenberg was one of the drivers out early in the session to familiarise himself with Stroll’s set-tings and the circuit before Verstappen set the pace for Red Bull, topping Bottas and Hamilton with Leclerc fourth. The ‘super-sub’ pushed, but it was asking too much of Hulkenberg and he failed to reach Q2 and qualified 20th, although his time was only 0.9 seconds shy of team-mate Perez in ninth.

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