Bottas grabs pole at Eifel Grand Prix

Sports Desk, Oct 10 (efe-epa).- Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) claimed the pole position Saturday in qualifying for the 2020 Formula One Eifel Grand Prix at Germany’s Nürburgring.

The Finn, coming off his victory two weeks ago in the Russian Grand Prix, was more than a quarter of a second faster around the track than British teammate Lewis Hamilton, the six-time world champion, who remains in pursuit of a 91st win that would bring him level with Michael Schumacher.

Mercedes are now 11 out of 11 for front-row lockouts in this pandemic-disrupted season.

Third place, as it as so many other times in 2020, went to Dutchman Max Verstappen (Red Bull), while Monaco’s Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) secured P4.

Starting from the third row on the grid will be Thai driver Alex Albon (Red Bull) and Australian veteran Daniel Ricciardo (Renault), whose French teammate, Esteban Ocon, finished seventh in qualifying and will share the fourth row with Briton Lando Norris (McLaren)

Mexico’s Sergio “Checo” Perez (Racing Point) was ninth, just ahead of Spaniard Carlos Sainz (McLaren).

German four-time F1 champ Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) failed to reach Q3 and will start his home race from P11 on Sunday, while compatriot Nico Hülkenberg (Racing Point) couldn’t make it out of Q1 and had to settle for P20.

Even so, it was a respectable showing for a driver brought in at the last minute to replace the ailing Lance Stroll.

Hülkenberg, who filled in for Checo Perez earlier this season when the Mexican was excluded for a positive Covid-19 test, said he rushed to the Nürburgring after getting an urgent phone call from Racing Point Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer.

“I was in Cologne which is an hour from here. I was due to come here this afternoon anyway, I was going to do some TV stuff from RTL tomorrow. I was sat with a friend having a coffee at 11.00 am when I see that Otmar rings me and says ‘Hülkenberg, hurry we need you here,'” the substitute driver told reporters after qualifying.

Despite the late notice, Hülkenberg got exactly the same amount of practice as his competitors. Bad weather forced the cancelation of the two sessions set for Friday, so all 20 drivers had to make do with a single session ahead of qualifying.

“It’s just such a nice feeling when you get it done with the last lap,” Bottas said. “The last lap in qualifying three was spot on, just what I needed and it was nice to get it together. It’s been pretty tricky with short practice and these conditions, getting the tires in the sweet spot during the out lap, that was one of the biggest things today.”

Hamilton, who has 205 points in the driver standings after winning six of 10 races, seems poised to match Schumacher by claiming a seventh championship in 2020.

But Bottas, on 161 points from two wins, could still make it a contest with a first-place finish on Sunday. EFE


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