Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas beat Lewis Hamilton to take pole position for Formula 1:s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, as Nico Hulkenberg took to third for Racing Point in his just his second weekend back in the sport.
Hamilton led the way ahead of the final runs of Q1, with the Briton setting the pace with a lap of 1:26.818, set on soft tyres. That left him just under two tenths of a second ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in third thanks to a lap of 1:27.154.
The Dutch driver’s team-mate, Alex Albon, was finding thew going tougher though and after a mistake on his opening run he went into the final runs in P16, in the drop zone ahead of Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, the Alfa Romeos of Kimi Räikkönen and the Williams of Nicholas Latifi.
However, on his final flying lap the Red Bull driver he set a good time of 1:27.153 to rise to P3, 0.001s ahead of fourth-placed Verstappen. At the top of the order, Bottas took over in P1 ahead of Hamilton with a lap of 1:26.738.
Further back, AlphaTauri’s Dany Kvyat had his final lap deleted for exceeding track limits and that put him 15thin the closing moments. And when Renault’s Esteban Ocon improved to P8 with his final lap, Kvyat was eliminated in P16 ahead of Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, Williams’ Nicholas Latifi and the Alfa Romeos of Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Räikkönen.
In Q2 most drivers went out on medium tyres, except Williams’ George Russell, who stuck with softs, and Verstappen who chose the more radical option of hard compound Pirellis.
Bottas set the pace with a lap of 1:25.785 ahead of Hamilton and Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo who was enjoying a good session. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was fourth and Verstappen slotted into fifth place.
At the end of the middle segment 11th-placed Ocon exited the session along with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, McLaren’s Carlos Sainz, Haas’ Romain Grosjean and Williams driver Russell. Ocon was later hit with a three-place grid penalty for impeding Russell in Q1.
In the final runs of Q3, Hamilton set the early pace with a time of 1:25.284 with Bottas second ahead of Ricciardo and Hulkenberg. Verstappen and Albon on mediums, took P5 and P6 respectively ahead of Leclerc, Stroll, Gasly and Norris.
Hamilton made an improvement in the final run, finding around six hundredths of a second. But Bottas was able to find more and he took pole position with a lap of 1:25.514.
Behind the Mercedes pair it might have been expected that Verstappen, now on soft tyres, would take third and though he improved by 0.256s to a time of 1:26.176 it wasn’t good enough to beat surprise package Hulkenberg who went just under a tenth quicker to claim third place in just his second weekend in the Racing Point.
Behind the top four Ricciardo took fifth place ahead of the second Racing Point of Stroll. Pierre Gasly scored an excellent seventh place for AlphaTauri with Leclerc eighth for Ferrari. Alex took ninth place with a time of 1:26.669 and he’ll start alongside 10th-placed Lando Norris.
2020 FIA Formula 1 70thAnniversary Grand Prix – Qualifying
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:25.154 6 249.049
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:25.217 0.063 6 248.865
3 Nico Hülkenberg Racing Point/Mercedes 1:26.082 0.928 6 246.365
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 1:26.176 1.022 6 246.096
5 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:26.297 1.143 6 245.751
6 Lance Stroll Racing Point/Mercedes 1:26.428 1.274 6 245.378
7 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri/Honda 1:26.534 1.380 6 245.078
8 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:26.614 1.460 6 244.851
9 Alexander Albon Red Bull/Honda 1:26.669 1.515 6 244.696
10 Lando Norris McLaren/Renault 1:26.778 1.624 6 244.389
11 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:27.011 1.226 6 243.734
12 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:27.078 1.293 6 243.547
13 Carlos Sainz McLaren/Renault 1:27.083 1.298 6 243.533
14 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1:27.254 1.469 7 243.055
15 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 1:27.455 1.670 3 242.497
16 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri/Honda 1:27.882 1.144 6 241.319
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1:28.236 1.498 9 240.350
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams/Mercedes 1:28.430 1.692 6 239.823
19 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:28.433 1.695 6 239.815
20 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:28.493 1.755 6 239.652