Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 27 October 2020

Eifel Grand Prix: Valtteri Bottas pips Lewis Hamilton to pole

Red Bull's Max Verstappen qualified in third place with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc fourth

Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas during the qualifying session of the Formula One Eifel Grand Prix at the Nurburgring. EPA
Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas during the qualifying session of the Formula One Eifel Grand Prix at the Nurburgring. EPA

Valtteri Bottas took pole position for the Eifel Grand Prix on Saturday with Mercedes teammate and Formula One championship leader Lewis Hamilton alongside on the front row of the grid at the Nurburgring.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who had been on provisional pole after the first flying laps of the final session at the German circuit, qualified in third place with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc fourth.

Bottas' pole was his third of 2020 and an 11th in 11 races this season for Mercedes but this one looked in the balance right to the end.

"It's such a nice feeling when you get it on the last lap, with the last chance," said the Finn after celebrating his 14th career pole.

"The last lap in Q3 [the final phase] was spot on.

"It's been pretty tricky with short practice and these conditions getting the tyres in the sweet spot, that was one of the bigger things today."

The chilly autumn weather has shaped practice and qualifying. Friday's practice sessions were wiped out by fog and rain.

"I believe I can win," said Bottas. "That's the only goal for tomorrow and hopefully we can have a good start."

Hamilton, who needs just one victory to equal Michael Schumacher's record of 91 Grand Prix victories, had to settle for second on the grid.

"Valtteri is two-tenths ahead and he did a good job, so congratulations to him," he said. "There's a lot to play for tomorrow so I need to get my head down."

Bottas is 44 points behind six-time world champion Hamilton, who will still fancy his chances of a record-equalling 91st career win on Sunday at a track that last hosted an F1 race in 2013.

Daniel Ricciardo was sixth ahead of his Renault team-mate Esteban Ocon, Lando Norris of McLaren, Sergio Perez of Racing Point and Carlos Sainz in the second McLaren.

Shortly before qualifying, Racing Point announced that Nico Hulkenberg would step in for Lance Stroll who was "unwell".

Hulkenberg, who covered for Stroll's teammate Sergio Perez at Silverstone, was called at short notice from a Cologne cafe. Without any practice, he qualified at the back of the grid.

Updated: October 10, 2020 07:58 PM

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