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Valtteri Bottas beats Sebastian Vettel to Austria pole

SPIELBERG, Austria -- Valtteri Bottas edged Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel to pole position by just 0.042s in Austria, while Lewis Hamilton will start from eighth on the grid when his gearbox change grid penalty is applied after qualifying third.

Bottas's benchmark of 1:04.251 was set early in the session and gave the Finn the second pole position of his career. Vettel claimed second, safe in the knowledge main title rival Hamilton will drop down the starting order ahead of the grand prix. However, having progressed through Q2 on super-softs instead of ultra-softs, Hamilton will start the grand prix on an alternate strategy to the quickest cars around him, setting up a fascinating race if the three-time world champion can quickly climb through the order.

Valtteri Bottas. ERWIN SCHERIAU/AFP/Getty Images
The three drivers looked set for one final run in the closing seconds of the session, before Romain Grosjean's stopped Haas prompted yellow flags, prematurely ending Q3. It meant Hamilton was left to rue a mistake at the top of Turn 3 during his own run which looked to have cost him at least a spot ahead of Vettel in the final classification. The narrow gap between Mercedes and Ferrari may not have remained if the final runs had gone ahead but the Italian outfit will be encouraged by the gap on such a power-sensitive circuit.

Kimi Raikkonen finished a distant fourth, 0.528s on fellow Finn Bottas. However, Ferrari goes into the race knowing it can put the pole-sitter under direct pressure with two cars even if it fails to snatch the lead at the start, as Hamilton fights through the field from further back. Red Bull was best of the rest behind the lead two teams, with Daniel Ricciardo edging teammate Max Verstappen by 0.1s at the team's home circuit. Verstappen finished the session in the gravel having run off the track at Turn 8, though by that point the session had been neutralised by Grosjean's stoppage.

It was Grosjean who finished seventh, capping what has been a strong weekend for the Haas team so far, putting him ahead of the two Mercedes-powered Force Indias. After their controversial incidents in the previous two races, teammates Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon were split by just 0.069s. Carlos Sainz -- who appeared fired up following a weekend of criticism from Red Bull's senior management over comments he made about his future -- rounded out the top ten with an impressive 10th position for Toro Rosso.

Renault's Nico Hulkenberg missed out on a space in the top-ten shootout by just 0.05s in the closing seconds of Q2, instead having to settle for 11th on the grid ahead of the McLaren pair. Though Honda has introduced it's new 'spec-three' power unit this weekend, McLaren had to revert to an older power unit for Alonso's car in qualifying after encountering problems with the MGU-H ahead of FP3.

Despite reverting to a lower-spec engine the Spaniard finished in 12th, 0.15s up on teammate Stoffel Vandoorne, who kept the upgraded unit in his car. Despite being out-qualified by Alonso Vandoorne finished the session declaring the new engine was "definite progress", signing off with a rallying cry of "we're getting there" for the beleaguered McLaren-Honda outfit.

Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat was 14th, finishing a long way down on teammate Sainz's time, in what has been a weekend littered with issues for Toro Rosso. Kevin Magnussen will line up 15th having failed to emerge from the garage in Q2 after suffering a rear suspension failure mid-way through the opening session, meaning Haas had to settle for just one car in the top-ten shootout after a promising weekend.

Williams was the shock casualty of the opening session, with both Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll having to settle for 17th and 18th. The team has introduced a big upgrade package this weekend on what was expected to be one of its strongest circuits given the power-sensitive nature of the track and the fact Massa claimed pole there in 2014. Instead, the team suffered a double elimination just one race after Stroll claimed the team's first podium of the season.

Renault's Jolyon Palmer was unable to ease the pressure on his shoulders, missing out on a spot in Q2 by just 0.04s. The Englishman finished the session knowing the stewards will investigate an incident where he appeared to block Raikkonen during a flying lap. Sitting at the foot of the order on the other side of the Williams pair were the Sauber drivers, with Marcus Ericsson out-qualfying Pascal Wehrlein.

Source: http://www.espn.co.uk/f1/story/_/id/19913226/valtteri-bottas-beats-sebastian-vettel-austria-pole-lewis-hamilton-start-eighth

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