Bot­tas storms to pole af­ter Hamil­ton crashes out

Sunday Tribune - - NEWS&VIEWS - JENS MARX

VALT­TERI Bot­tas stormed to pole po­si­tion for the Brazil­ian Grand Prix yes­ter­day to save face for Mercedes, whose freshly-crowned world cham­pion Lewis Hamil­ton crashed out early in qual­i­fy­ing.

Bot­tas posted a track record 1 minute 8.322 sec­onds on the 4.309-kilo­me­tre In­ter­la­gos course for his third pole of the sea­son, de­spite some light rain at the end of the ses­sion.

Se­bas­tian Vet­tel was sec­ond and his Fer­rari team­mate Kimi Raikko­nen third.

Hamil­ton, who clinched a fourth ca­reer world ti­tle at the last race in Mex­ico a fort­night ago, lost con­trol and crashed into a tyre bar­rier. He got out un­harmed but the car suf­fered some dam­age and he will start to­day from the back of the grid.

Hamil­ton came out to con­grat­u­late Bot­tas af­ter the Finn topped the qual­i­fy­ing, and will hope to rise through the rank­ings at a tra­di­tion­ally un­pre­dictable race af­ter his “very un­usual” mishap.

“Of course it’s un­for­tu­nate. I tend to just look at it as chal­lenges are what makes life in­ter­est­ing and over­com­ing them makes life mean­ing­ful,” he said.

Up front, there seems not much be­tween Mercedes and Fer­rari whose four driv­ers were sep­a­rated by a mere sixth hun­dredths in the third prac­tice ses­sion, while in qual­i­fy­ing Vet­tel trailed by three hun­dredths, with Raikko­nen two-tenths back.

“Lewis go­ing out in the be­gin­ning was a shame for us but I’m glad I could stand up for us and the team,” Bot­tas said. “It’s re­ally good to start on pole here. We have a good car and it will still be close with Fer­rari and I’m looking for­ward to to­mor­row.”

While Bot­tas man­aged to bet­ter Vet­tel’s time at the death, the Ger­man was not fully sat­is­fied with his last fly­ing lap as he ad­mit­ted: “I think I chick­ened out a lit­tle bit on the brakes for the fi­nal run into turn one and lost a bit too much time.”

Max Ver­stap­pen placed fourth but his Red Bull team has strug­gled a lit­tle at In­ter­la­gos and he is not tipped to get a third vic­tory in five races.

Team­mate Daniel Ric­cia­rdo was fifth but loses 10 places on to­day’s grid ow­ing to an en­gine part change, one of four driv­ers moved back ow­ing to penal­ties.

Wil­liams’ Felipe Massa mean­while will start his last home race from ninth place be­fore re­tir­ing af­ter the sea­son-ending Abu Dhabi race on Novem­ber 26. Massa won the In­ter­la­gos race twice, in 2006 and 2008, while at Fer­rari. – DPA

PIC­TURE: REUTERS

POLE PO­SI­TION: Mercedes’ Valt­teri Bot­tas, right, cel­e­brates get­ting pole po­si­tion with Fer­rari’s Se­bas­tian Vet­tel af­ter yes­ter­day’s Brazil Grand Prix qual­i­fy­ing in Sao Paulo.

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