Valtteri Bottas Takes Pole Position in Brazil After Hamilton Q1 Crash
The Mercedes driver edged out Sebastian Vettel by less than .04 seconds for P1 on Sunday's starting grid.
A competitive Saturday qualifying round at Interlagos saw one half of the Mercedes F1 duo triumph while the other crashed out early in Q1. Valtteri Bottas leads the field going into Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix as he will start in P1 with Ferrari's Vettel rounding out the front row. However, fellow Silver Arrow driver and Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton suffered an unusual crash in the first stage of quali, forcing him to start from the back of the grid at tomorrow's race.
Bottas' final time of 1:08.322 was just enough to place him ahead of Vettel's 1:08.360, but in the end, it was the young Finnish driver who had the trump card. As a result, Bottas claimed his third pole position of his career—the first in Brazil. Vettel will sit next to him on the starting line with his Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen in third position.
After Q3, Bottas told reporters "I feel good. Still a bit shaky, it's a good feeling. It was so close between Sebastian in the qualifying, so got a good lap in the end. It's really good to start on the pole here, we have a good car, it's going to be a close race still with Ferrari."
Vettel then added, "I think I chickened out a bit on the brakes on the last lap into Turn 1." That seemingly minor mistake was enough to knock him down a spot on the grid, and he will have 71 laps tomorrow to make it up.
Red Bull's Max Verstappen will complete the second row with Raikkonen as he achieved a best time of 1:08.925. The Dutchman has expressed his optimism about Sunday's event throughout the week as he finished on the podium here last season as well as claiming the fastest lap in 2016. Verstappen claimed to have issues during Q1, saying "There is definitely something not right with my engine."
Daniel Ricciardo fell just short of his teammate in qualifying, though a slew of engine changes will earn him penalties, likely knocking him towards the back of the field. Sergio Perez came in closely behind and was then followed by McLaren's Fernando Alonso.
The Renault tandem of Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz claimed eighth and ninth fastest of the day with Williams' Felipe Massa finishing tenth in his final Brazilian GP qualifying round.
This is the first time that Lewis Hamiton has exited qualifying in Q1 since Belgium in 2016. He currently holds the record for most pole positions in F1 history with 72.
Bottas' pole position is the 87th in Mercedes team history.