12 November 2017Hot off the Press
Valtteri Bottas has taken pole position for the 2017 Brazilian Grand Prix, his Mercedes crossing the finish line with a qualifying time of 1:08.322. The Finn will start first on the grid for the race tomorrow for the third time in his career, third time this season, and third time since joining Mercedes at the start of the year. Bottas has seen this as part of a series of turning points in his career, as he works through issues that have affected his speed and consistency this season.
Alongside Bottas will be the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel. Having lost his chance to win the Championship title at the last race, Vettel will now be under pressure from Bottas for the runner-up position. Vettel currently leads Bottas by just 15 points in the Championship standings. The other Ferrari of Kimi Räikkönen will start in third, alongside the Red Bull of Max Verstappen. Verstappen’s teammate Daniel Ricciardo qualified fifth, but will start 14th after being given a 10-place grid penalty for taking on additional power unit elements.
Ricciardo’s penalty means the Force India of Sergio Pérez, the McLaren of Fernando Alonso, the Renaults of Nico Hülkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr, and the Williams of Felipe Massa will each start a position higher than they qualified, while promoting the other Force India of Esteban Ocon to complete the top 10. Massa has accused Sainz of deliberately impeding him during qualifying for what will be Massa’s final home race after announcing his retirement ahead of 2018, however no investigation by the race stewards has been announced.
The Haas of Romain Grosjean, the other McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne, and the other Haas of Kevin Magnussen will also benefit from Ricciardo’s penalty, each moving up a place. Brendon Hartley got his Toro Rosso into Q2, qualifying 15th, but will start 18th due to a 10-place grid penalty for taking on additional power unit elements. This pushes the Sauber of Pascal Wehrlein up into Hartley’s place.
The other Toro Rosso of Pierre Gasly was given a 25-place grid penalty due to taking on additional power unit elements, dropping from 17th to 19th and starting behind Hartley. This moves the other Sauber of Marcus Ericsson into 16th, and the other Williams of Lance Stroll into 17th. Hartley and Gasly’s penalties make little difference to their starting positions because there are only 20 cars entered for the race, but tensions have risen between Toro Rosso and Renault over the reliability of the latter’s supplied power units, which has also affected Red Bull. Toro Rosso is set to switch to Honda power units for 2018.
Meanwhile, newly-crown World Champion Lewis Hamilton crashed his Mercedes into the barrier at turn 7 on his first flying lap of the Autódromo José Carlos Pace in Q1. Hamilton walked away from the incident unharmed, but was seen inspecting the rear of his car, indicating something may have gone wrong there. Hamilton commented that it was “unfortunate” and “unusual”, but admitted that it “shows we’re all human”. Hamilton will start from the pit lane and, having already won the Championship, is free to race hard this weekend.