Both Mercedes drivers will start on the front row for the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi on Sunday, but Valtteri Bottas will start on pole ahead of Lewis Hamilton. German driver Sebastian Vettel qualified third fastest.Valtteri Bottas beat championship leader Lewis Hamilton to pole position for the Russian Grand Prix on Saturday, setting a strategy conundrum for their Mercedes team.
Bottas was 0.145 ahead of Hamilton and 0.56 ahead of third-placed Sebastian Vettel, who is second in the standings, 40 points off Hamilton.
“It feels good, still a bit of shakes, you know. It takes some concentration,” said Bottas, who had his first career win in Russia last year.
Hamilton was fastest in the first two qualifying sessions but went wide on his last fast lap and had to abandon his challenge.
“It was intense, naturally, as it always is,” Hamilton said. “Just my last two laps were not special, but you can’t always get it right.”
Mercedes must decide if it’s willing to sacrifice Bottas’ hopes of a first win this season to boost Hamilton’s shot at the championship. Bottas said he wanted to win but would consider the overall situation.
“My approach to the race tomorrow is definitely just trying to win the race. You can’t have any other goal starting from pole, so that’s going to be for sure the aim,” Bottas said.
“But of course we’re here as a team, we’re fighting for the world championship. Also Lewis is leading the championship with a bit of a gap to Sebastian and a very big gap to me, so always need to keep those things in mind.”
Hamilton leads with 281 points to 241 for Vettel in second. Bottas is fourth with 171 points.
mds/mf (AP, AFP)